Ask The Manager: 'Is it possible to enforce the loitering law in Pottstown?'

Pottstown Manager Jason Bobst answers questions from Pottstown Patch readers.

In reference to our 7-25-2011 story, "Woman Starts Fire In Borough Hall Cell Block," a Pottstown Patch reader asked:

"Hey, how come Garrett Sterner ... was cited for 'loitering' on July 13th when we've been told repeatedly that it is not possible to enforce the loitering law in Pottstown? Just this May, in the Patch, under 'Bullets, Ballots and the Borough' - I quote our Mayor, Bonnie Heath: 'It is not correct to say that loitering laws can be enforced. Sadly, they cannot since the ACLU has deemed them to be discriminatory.' HUH ... Which is it?"

Pottstown Manager Jason Bobst said,

"In response to the question submitted, I spoke with the Chief of Police and the issue with Garrett Sterner is that he was arrested and charged with several offenses."

One of the charges is for PA Crimes Code § 5506, Bobst said.  

Loitering and prowling at nighttime, which was part of the incident that occurred that night, is defined as whoever "at nighttime maliciously loiters or maliciously prowls around a dwelling house or any other place used wholly or in part for living or dwelling purposes, belonging to or occupied by another," Bobst said.

In this case, Sterner is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree, Bobst said.

"I believe this is different than what was discussed by Mayor Heath under 'Bullets, Ballots and the Borough' with what we face in our downtown and more densely populated areas," Bobst said.

Editor's note: Got a question for Pottstown Manager Jason Bobst? Post it on Pottstown.Patch.com and we'll track down the borough expert for the answer. You may also send your questions directly to Pottstown Patch Editor Teresa McMinn at teresa.mcminn@patch.com.

Dharma July 28, 2011 at 06:41 PM
That makes sense under those circumstances. Thank you Patch and Mr. Bobst and Chief Flanders. This is a really good public service and I've seen other posts on line about the confusing loitering laws. Can someone also explain the general loitering law that Mayor Heath referred to and the status of any pending or settled ACLU actions against Pottstown? I can see that the ACLU has challenged loitering laws in other parts of the U.S. how does that impact the decisions that are made about our loitering law? Thank you.


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