Dinkytown safety policy may not help

A policy aims to make Dinkytown safer, but it may be neither enforceable nor effective.

For any area with a thriving nightlife, especially one near a college campus, maintaining order among the wild masses is a
constant struggle. Dinkytown is certainly no exception.

In an effort to better maintain order, Dinkytown businesses are considering a policy that would ban unwanted patrons from the entire business district, the Minnesota Daily reported Feb. 27.

The Minneapolis Police Department is pushing the policy, which is known as “geographic trespassing.” If adopted, the measure would allow police to ban someone from the entire area if a business, local bar or restaurant issues a trespass warning. After receiving a call from a business owner, police would record the trespasser’s personal information and take his or her picture. Offenses could include shoplifting, aggressive panhandling and being kicked out of a bar, the Daily reported. Police would arrest violators of geographic trespassing and issue a misdemeanor for every time they enter the restricted area.

We support initiatives that make Dinkytown a safer place, but we’re skeptical that the geographic trespassing is either enforceable or effective. As acting Dinkytown Business Association president Greg Pillsbury has said, it would be hard to get a decent photo and information from rowdy patrons. The threshold for someone to be banned under the policy is rather high, requiring a person to both be kicked out of a business and receive a trespass warning.

If Dinkytown business owners believe a geographic trespassing policy would significantly improve safety in the area, they should support it. However, there is little value in adopting an unenforceable and ineffective policy simply because it won’t do any harm. More time and energy should be spent proposing useful safety measures.