The Riverton City Council approved a new ordinance on first reading last week banning public defecation in town.
Riverton Police Department chief Eric Hurtado said the change will help local officers respond to complaints about public defecation, which have increased recently.
“The current City of Riverton ordinance covers the act of urinating in public but does not clearly specify the act of defecation,” Hurtado explained. “The purpose of this amendment is to include the act of defecating in public into the current city ordinance (so) we’ll be able to have an additional enforcement duty.”
The defecation ordinance is one of several he plans to propose in the coming months to address some “gaps” he has found in the municipal code, Hurtado added.
“There is a long list of areas (where) I believe we can do better,” he said during the meeting. “There are a lot of holes we need to plug so the officers have good cause and justification to enforce some of these laws that a lot of people thought were on the books and weren’t – (like) ordinances on graffiti, jaywalking … panhandling, things that in other cities are against local laws. For here, it’s not covered.”
While discussing last week’s proposed ordinance change, the council talked about potential alternative penalties for people convicted of defecating in public.
The misdemeanor offense currently comes with a $750 fine, but council members pointed out that some people won’t have the money to cover that cost, so they may end up in jail for failure to pay – a scenario that only costs the city more money, Councilmember Mike Bailey pointed out.
“I don’t believe in throwing them in prison for peeing on the sidewalk,” he said.
Instead, council members suggested that people convicted of public defecation could be ordered to do community service and potentially clean up the scene of the crime.
They decided to discuss that prospect further when they consider the proposed ordinance on second reading.
For more information call the City of Riverton at 856-2227.