Greenwood City Council on Monday passed the first reading of an ordinance which will allow police to place individuals on trespass notice for public buildings.
Greenwood police officers had been placing individuals on trespass notice for public buildings until Chief Gerald Brooks discovered a S.C. Attorney General’s opinion issued in 2009 which states that a 1970 S.C. Supreme Court case established that the law pertaining to trespass notice “applies only to private property and has no applicability to public property.” The opinion was issued at the request of the director of the state library in Columbia. GPD discovered the opinion in Aug. 2013 and quit issuing trespass notices for public property at that time.
According to Brooks, trespass notices are only issued for public property in extreme circumstances when an individual refuses to comply with an established code of conduct at a public building and refuses to leave the property. Officers are then dispatched and place the individual on trespass notice.
According to city manager Charlie Barrineau, there have a limited number of incidents which required an individual to be placed on trespass notice on public property. In 2011, seven individuals were placed on trespass notice for the Greenwood County Library and one at the Arts Center. In 2012, nine individuals were placed on trespass notice at the library. In 2013, up until August when GPD quit placing individuals on trespass notice for public property, six individuals were placed on trespass notice at the library, one at the Commissioners of Public Works building and one at the Arts Center.
The new ordinance provides an appeal process for individuals placed on trespass notice for public property. An individual can appeal the trespass notice and the appeal will be heard by a city judge within seven days. The decision of the judge is final. The trespass notice is good for one year.
Should an individual be placed on trespass notice for public property, the individual can petition the city manager for a temporary reprieve for special events. Barrineau gave an example of an individual placed on trespass notice for the Arts Center. If the individual then had a family member holding a wedding reception at the Arts Center, the individual could then apply for a temporary reprieve of the trespass notice to attend the reception.
The measure passed unanimously. Council is expected to hold second reading and public hearing at their next regular meeting on Mar. 17.