Kodiak City Works on Downtown Harassment Issues Through Code

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Business owners have come forward to report problems regarding the transient population downtown and disorderly conduct from inebriates. City staff and the Kodiak City Council are trying to solve that problem and make it easier for the police department to control. At the Kodiak City Council regular meeting Thursday night, City Manager Aimée Kniaziowski explained the need for code change.

“Certainly the police force can respond as they’re able to and will with each call. However, it was more than just what the police could respond to, so we took this request to the city attorney, and staff, myself, and the police chief looked it over and worked with our city attorney to write and update our code.”

She explained the proposed changes.

“It does prohibit assault, obstruction of sidewalks and pathways, panhandling, and to sit and lie on a sidewalk or to camp in a public place, and while some of those have been in our code, they weren’t written very well or very enforceably, so it’s also repealed some sections as the title indicates of title 8 that would be susceptible to legal challenges.”

Councilman John Whiddon pointed out the bigger issue behind the ordinance.

“I’m glad we’re giving the police department these additional tools, but there’s still great concern that these are just tools to help after the event and, as we said the other night, there’s still a really strong need to address this social issue which goes well beyond an enforcement issue to a community need to assist people who are really in a bad state.”

The city council passed the ordinance onto a second reading, which will take place at the council’s next regular meeting. Another item on the agenda regarded the city’s request for a Code Blue grant from the Southern Region EMS Council to buy medical equipment.

Kniaziowski said the city started the grant request in 2014 and the Southern Region EMS Council recently notified them of the award of $31,700 dollars, which the city will match by 10 percent.

“Our EMS service is very dependent on lots of equipment, it’s highly technical, it’s very expensive, and it’s wonderful when we can get the help to replace these things, which either break or age. And, so, we’re certainly in support of that and this is a really helpful program for us.”
The council accepted the grant amount through the resolution on the agenda. The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for February 11.

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