One page of the 14-page minor offense fee schedule.

One page of the 14-page minor offense fee schedule.

Last week, the Haines Minor Offenses Ad Hoc Committee worked on streamlining the enforcement process.  The committee voted to recommend to the assembly that only police officers and harbor staff can hand out tickets. The harbor master’s and assistant harbor master’s roles would be limited to harbor-related offenses.

The committee has met a few times already, but they still have much work ahead of them.  They’re tasked with making recommendations to the assembly about what to change or keep on the list of rules known as the Minor Offenses Ordinance.

The debate on who should be able to give out citations has been ongoing. At one point the idea was tossed around that selected borough staff, along with borough police officers, should be able to dole out tickets. But the public urged the powers that be to keep that responsibility within the law enforcement realm. Down at the harbor, there are plenty of violations that happen, and so the committee decided to recommend that harbor staff be included in the list of enforcers.

Ad hoc committee member Mike Case said when this “hullabaloo” first started; he thought that trained borough staff should be able to handle citations. He said he still thinks that the harbor master should be able to give out tickets, along with police, but that’s it, especially when it comes to land-use and zoning issues.

“With respect to Title 18 violations, any land-use violations, those are touchy subjects anyway so I think I would agree that any violations there ought to be issued by certified and licensed police officers,” Case said.

Later in the meeting, committee member Margaret Friedenauer made a motion to recommend that the police department enforce minor offenses, and that the harbor master and assistant harbor master has the power enforce harbor violations. Her motion also originally recommended giving authority to the borough’s planning and zoning technician and lands’ manager to impose Title 18 violations. Here’s Friedenauer.

“This is with the caveat that I expect, I would hope, that our list of minor offenses is greatly reduced.”

Case then made an amendment to exclude the last part regarding Title 18 from the motion. That amendment passed unanimously.

The main motion also passed unanimously to recommend allowing only police officers and the harbor staff to issue the appropriate citations.

Resident Brenda Josephson spoke up at the meeting and said that police officers are highly qualified in things like conflict resolution, something the harbor staff is not.

“I remain firm in my conviction that if you’re sending a resident to the court system, it should be from a certified police officer.”

The committee also voted to recommend removing Title 18, the one that deals with land, planning and zoning, from the minor offenses ordinance and have the planning commission deal with appeals administratively.

The committee will continue making its recommendations, including which offenses are civil and which are criminal. The difference is that appeals would go to difference places – either to borough administrative staff, or to court. In the New Year, the committee will also go through the ordinance, rule by rule, and decide which ones stay the same, which ones get a different fine amount assigned, or which ones go away completely. Of course, these are all just recommendations. The assembly has the final say.

The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 14 at 3 p.m. in assembly chambers.