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|West Monroe aldermen update criminal code|
West Monroe residents may want to think twice about calling 911 to ask for a lift to Wal-Mart.
The West Monroe Board of Aldermen unanimously approved updating the town's criminal codes to outlaw misuse of the 911 emergency system. Aldermen acted on the matter Tuesday at their regular meeting.
Doug Caldwell, attorney for the city, said the West Monroe Police Department had fielded several calls from a woman requesting rides to various places. When police looked into charging the woman with a crime, they came up dry.
Caldwell said nothing in the state criminal code or West Monroe's own laws covered the prank calls.
Instead, Caldwell said he conducted an internet search to determine what kinds of laws other municipalities have adopted to deal with the issue.
"We found some and adopted a local ordinance that fits us," Caldwell said. "It's not erroneous calling, if you have a good faith belief in the call, but more as a practical matter."
Aldermen also unanimously approved amendments to the criminal code to outlaw certain forms of criminal mischief, including display of a well-known drug and gang symbol.
Particularly, city police were interested in prosecuting people who toss shoes over power lines, a sign that drug sales take place nearby.
Caldwell said West Monroe police again found they had little to work with when looking for a crime in which to charge offenders.
"We've had a continuing problem with shoes hung over the lines," Caldwell said. "We couldn't find it anywhere and it didn't fit the definition of criminal mischief."
In other business, aldermen delayed action on a proposed condemnation of three homes along the Ouachita River that are in danger of collapse.
The homes rest on the inside of the Ouachita River levee and began to settle four weeks ago.
The board was set to condemn the property and order the removal of the structures. West Monroe Mayor Dave Norris asked aldermen to delay action "to give the owners a little time" to work with insurance companies.
Norris recognized the need take action on the homes, which engineers have said are unsafe and structurally unsound. Norris also said the city needed to work with the homeowners to find a resolution.
Norris noted the properties have been secured against intrusion and the land beneath the homes seems to have settled somewhat in the last few weeks.
"I think until something changes, we owe them that opportunity of a couple or three more weeks," Norris said.
Aldermen will again examine the possible condemnation of the structures at a regular meeting in September.