Huntsville police, businesses working to combat loitering

Police said officers frequently respond to calls from businesses about trespassers along University Drive.

Posted: Apr 12, 2019 5:21 PM
Updated: Apr 12, 2019 9:42 PM

Huntsville police are working to combat trespassing in Huntsville.

Police said officers frequently respond to calls from businesses about trespassers along University Drive.

Misty Elliott works at Southern Comfort Suites on University Drive, and she said calling police for homeless people trespassing has become far too regular.

"Everyday like every hour, we will run somebody off," she said.

Elliott said the business has purchased five no-trespassing signs to try to stop the problem. Huntsville Police Officer Joel Stephens does community outreach for the department and explained the issues these businesses are seeing.

"Loitering, sitting in front of business all day drinking and stuff like that. Most people don't want to go to a store where they are stopped three times and people are sitting outside begging for money," he said.

Stephens explained why the department is trying to keep people from trespassing.

"We've got the programs in place to already help them. That's great, but the ones that don't want to participate in programs that are out here committing crimes, it gives us another tool in our tool bag," he said.

The no-trespassing signs take away the warning process and will give officers authority to take action anytime someone has trespassed.

"We can basically, if you have a sign posted, we can show up and do the enforcement. If we need to arrest them or do the citation or whatever," Stephens said.

Elliott said she hopes the enforcement will make the area safer.

"It's very dangerous. We're just afraid something bad is going to happen," she said.

One man, Freddie Owens, said he is homeless and understands why police and businesses are making a serious push to stop loitering.

"If a man's got to lay down, than I think he's got to lay down. But, you have to respect the man that owns the business. If the man says he doesn't want you there, then get out of there," Owens said.

Huntsville police said it just started its efforts this week and hopes these signs will help officers respond to less calls in the future. If you're interested in learning more about how your business can receive a no-trespassing sign, contact Huntsville police.

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