Samuel Likens redeems his skateboard from the Lafayette Police Department. “Seems like every time they go out, they get in trouble with their skateboards,” said mother Thelma Likens.
Lafayette police will begin to enforce state and city ordinances regarding public skateboard use this week. The ordinances are not new, but have not been strictly enforced before now. The change is in response to a growing number of complaints from citizens and officers who have encountered hazardous situations created by skateboarders on public roads.
Dozens of skateboards have been confiscated in the past few months, often when teens ignored warnings or “mouthed off” to officers, said Police Chief Ray Amalfitano.
Part of the problem, he said, is that the kids have no public place to skate. A proposal for a public skate park was brought to the City Council last month, and Amalfitano volunteered for the committee formed to look into it. Unfortunately, newly elected City Mayor and Council members will need to re-form this committee in order for things to move forward, and this could slow down the process.
Amalfitano is also looking into writing a couple of state grants, to help offset any cost to the city for construction of the park. “Here’s what I want the kids to understand: we’re trying to investigate the alternatives. But if they don’t behave themselves, to the point that they’re respectful to citizens, respectful to officers, it’s going to be hard for me to do anything. They’re going to shoot it down themselves. It’s going to be hard for me to present it. They just need to chill out and wait; I’m trying to help you.”
The state ordinance that will be enforced heretofore reads as follows: “No person shall play on a highway other than upon the sidewalk thereof, within a city or town, or in any part of a highway outside the limits of a city or town, or use thereon roller skates, coasters, or any similar vehicle or toy or article on wheels or a runner, except in those areas as may be specially designated for that purpose by local authorities.”
The city ordinance reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to stand, sit, or engage in any activity whatever on any public street, sidewalk, bridge or public ground in such a manner as to prevent, obstruct, or interfere unreasonably with the free passage of pedestrian or vehicular traffic thereon.”
Those found in violation will be cited, and they will have to come before a city judge to answer for the charge. “I hate to do it,” said Amalfitano, “but that’s also for their safety. I’d much rather see them upset with us then see them out here on the street, and hit by a car… until we can find some kind of solution.
“They also cannot be skateboarding on private property unless they have permission, and I would prefer they have written permission with a date and signature, so they can show the officer, if there was a complaint.”