January 23, 2006
Some people in Blackville, South Carolina are upset that police are handing out $300 citations for loitering. Residents say they feel they are being harassed. News 12 spoke with the Blackville Chief of Police for answers.
Adrian Walker says when police gave him a $500 citation for loitering, or hanging around, he immediately tore it up because he says he was walking through a store’s parking lot.
“We don’t know any better in the city of Blackville. We don’t know any better, we dumb as a box of rocks let them tell it,” Walker said.
Adrian, one of several people arrested and cited for loitering, calls it harassment. Blackville Chief of Police Kenneth Bamberg calls it breaking the law and it comes with a steep price.
While $500 may seem excessive for just ‘hanging out,’ the Blackville Police Department says loitering is a crime.
“I feel the fine and punishment, the fine $500 or 30 days in jail, is appropriate,” Bamberg said.
“I will give them two weeks in the county jail cause it ain’t nothing I got kids that got to eat they need clothes,” Walker said.
Chief Bamberg says his officers are doing exactly what is supposed to be done. Cruising the streets and arresting people who continuously stand in front of businesses with these signs, standing in front of this business is okay because they allow it.
“I feel if they are not bothering or harassing they could stand in front of the store,” said Shaneka DeLoach, Blackville resident.
But Chief Bamberg says it’s the price to pay in order to keep the community safe.
“You have people in the community that were actually afraid to go to the store,” Bamberg said.
And since he became chief in 2004, Chief Bamberg says more arrests have been made and crime has gone down because of the police department’s zero tolerance policy.
“Our goal is about prevention, it’s about being proactive, it’s about not sitting back and waiting on something to happen,” Bamberg said.
Many residents plan to turn out at the Blackville City town hall meeting Monday night to try and address this issue. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at the town hall in Blackville.
We did some checking and in Richmond County there is a fine of $285 for loitering, which falls under disorderly conduct. North Augusta has a $257 fine for loitering and the city of Aiken has no loitering charge.