Judge Rules Police Cannot Ban People From Parks

Monroe County Judge Marc Kellams determined police do not have the legal authority to place individuals on a "trespass list."

Seminary Park

Photo: Lobstar28(Flickr)

Michael Jones was arrested four times for trespassing in Seminary Park after being put on a 'trespass list' by a Bloomington police officer.

A Monroe County court has ruled that police officers cannot remove people from public parks based on previous criminal actions. This week, Judge Marc Kellams determined that police do not have the legal authority to place individuals on a “trespass list.”

Last September, Bloomington resident Michael Jones was issued a trespass warning, and eventually banned from all city parks by a local police officer. Jones had been cited for public consumption of alcohol on city property several times before.

Jones was then arrested four separate times in the ensuing weeks for being in Seminary Park, a city owned property. He was accused of no crime other than violating the officer’s previous trespass order.

In dismissing those four charges against Jones, Kellams determined the police officer did not have the authority to issue a general ban against an individual, and could only make an arrest after a specific crime had been committed.

Jones’ defense cited a case in Kokomo where a man had been banned from a park by a police officer for participating in a gambling ring. A Howard County court convicted the man, but the Indiana Court of Appeals determined police have no authority to ban an individual from a public place unless a municipal law is in place that specifically gives them that power.

Kellams also determined that Bloomington has no such law in place.

Dan Goldblatt

Dan Goldblatt is the Multi-media Producer for WFIU/WTIU News. A graduate of Indiana University, he studied journalism and anthropology. He currently lives in Bloomington with his cat, June Carter.

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