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Business owners reporting more sit-and-lie violations, Spokane council member says

Officer John O'Brien said police haven't made any changes to how it enforces the ordinance since it resumed in February.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane city leaders and police are sharing their thoughts on the latest "sit-and-lie" enforcement numbers.

The latest numbers in 2019 are from mid-February to the end of March. That's because the ordinance was temporarily suspended until Feb. 8, 2019.

KREM learned in those two months, Spokane police made a total of 23 citations and bookings.

Looking back at the same time frame of February to the end of March in previous years, there were about 20 reported in 2018.

Officer John O'Brien said police haven't made any changes to how it enforces the ordinance since it resumed in February.

 "Since the suspension of the ordinance has been lifted, downtown patrolmen are doing the exact same thing they did last year and they will continue to enforce it as needed," O'Brien said.

The majority of the recorded arrests are citations or releases. O'Brien said that means officers aren't taking these individuals to jail. Instead, they're citing them with a referral to community court.

"The goal of this cite and release is to get folks guided to community court where they have one stop shopping for all of the resources available that they might need," O'Brien said.

City Council member Kate Burke participated in protests outside city hall against the sit and lie ordinance. 

"I don't feel like we should be discriminatory toward people who are 'houseless' right now," Burke said. "Sure, we'll get them to services they'll need. But we have an outreach team for that."

She said these are enforcement numbers the city shouldn't even be concerned about as she'd like to see the ordinance repealed altogether.

"The sit and lie ordinance is an attack on people in poverty," Burke said.

She believes the number of sit and lie citations and bookings may be up because businesses owners are reporting to police more often.

"I do see our business community getting more and more irritated about seeing homeless people on the street," Burke said. "So this may be because they're calling police more, and relying on them more."

Burke said this is a topic the community should still be discussing to find the best solution for those impacted by the ordinance.

RELATED: Spokane Police issue 23 sit-and-lie citations from mid-Feb. to March

RELATED: Why Spokane’s homeless population is more visible than ever

RELATED: Homeless advocates: 'It feels like the city is bailing on people'

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