Tempe has found that sometimes it’s just not enough to arrest hookers, drug dealers or drunken trespassers. They can be back on the street the next day.
And while many other crimes are far more serious, the constant presence of these people can be a scourge on neighborhoods.
So when the city keeps arresting these criminals, it bans them from the area to which they keep returning.
The practice is rare, but police and prosecutors say it’s one of the most important things they’ve done to rid neighborhoods of nuisances.
Tempe does this in just a few areas, but the city recently added a tiny portion of the historic Maple-Ash neighborhood to one of the areas where lots of small crimes had caused concern.
The bans were most widely used on Apache Boulevard to reduce the prostitution the road had become notorious for.
“You’d almost be arresting the same person every week, so obviously traditional law enforcement was not working because the same people were doing the same type of crime,” police Sgt. Jon Waide said.
When police would arrest the same woman repeatedly, they’d ask city prosecutors for what they call an “order-out” designation for a particular area. Prosecutors could then order the person to stay out of a specified place as a condition of probation. The offender would be arrested and jailed for 30 days or more simply for returning to that area.
Nearly three dozen people got the designation on Apache Boulevard, Waide said. He used to work that part of Tempe and called the order-outs a key to reducing the number of prostitutes.
“It seems like there are more joggers on Apache than hookers,” Waide said.
Tempe prosecutor Robert Hubbard said he can’t recall a prostitution arrest on Apache in a year, which he said is in part because the city has banned repeat offenders.
There has never been a legal challenge to the bans, Hubbard said, because the designation is only for an area ranging from a specific address to a few blocks.
“You can’t be so broad that you prevent somebody from moving around and traveling and getting places that they need to go,” Hubbard said.
The city usually has no more than 10 people on the order-out list at any time, Hubbard said.
Prosecutors have issued the bans along Apache Boulevard, downtown and at a couple of parks. Tempe added a Circle K at University Drive and Ash Avenue earlier this year after realizing that the store had generated more than 400 calls to police in a one-year period.
Maple-Ash resident Dan Durrenberger said the store had become a magnet for people who caused problems in the neighborhood. He called police, who worked with prosecutors to add the store and some adjacent property to the ban. One person has already been prohibited from returning because of repeated loitering, Hubbard said.
Durrenberger also talked with Circle K representatives about the store’s run-down appearance, he said. The company rushed to spruce up the store, Durrenberger said, which seems to have helped improve the area.
“It just brings a sense of pride to that portion of the neighborhood, and you do see, at least for the time being, what appears to be less loitering,” Durrenberger said.