Updated November 1, 2023 - 7:15 pm
The city of Las Vegas will consider a proposal to implement an “order out corridor” to keep people convicted of any misdemeanor away from the downtown tourist corridor for up to a year, an edict the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada deems unconstitutional.
ACLU Executive Director Athar Haseebullah said the ordinance could lead to a “direct legal confrontation” between the city and the civil rights nonprofit.
The ordinance would allow Las Vegas Municipal Court judges to issue an order to keep persons convicted of a misdemeanor away from up to 32-square blocks surrounding the Fremont Street Experience — in addition to the area surrounding the Strat — in lieu of a jail sentence, City Attorney Jeff Dorocak said.
There could be exceptions, for example, if the person lives, works or requires essential services in the corridor, according to the proposed ordinance. However, they would need to carry a copy of their order.
City marshals and Las Vegas police — who patrol the area — argued during Monday’s recommending committee meeting that repeat offenders account for most of the crime in the area, and said that a similar ordinance implemented for the Strip in 2022 has been a success.
“This is going to be another tool for us to be much more precise and much for focused in combating these chronic offenders that account for most of the crime,” said Jason Potts, the city’s director of public safety.
‘Restricts civil liberties’
Police would keep a database of the persons with an active order — including photos — which would give them probable cause for possible arrest on an additional misdemeanor if they violate the order, Potts said.
Potts said the corridor has been plagued with juvenile crime and gang activity, and that the ordinance would allow police to better focus their efforts.
A three-member recommending committee voted to forward the proposal to the City Council, which can vote on the measure as early as Nov. 15.
The proposed ordinance expands the scope of a current “order out zone” for people convicted of prostitution or drug crimes, just like Clark County did when it approved its ordinance for the Strip.
“From our vantage point, their proposal and this provision is unconstitutional,” said Haseebullah. “It restricts civil liberties and it’s an affront to the first and fifth amendments,” restricting people’s rights to travel.
He said police would have a “free for all” and that the order will be used to target street performers and people experiencing homelessness “rather than engage any serious level of violent crime.”
Officials, he said, “attempt sweeping proposals without any regard with people’s liberty or rights over all.”
The ACLU has opposed Clark County’s “order out corridor” on the Strip and signed onto an amicus brief with the Nevada Supreme Court for a case related to the ordinance.
Las Vegas police Lt. Jesse Kommel-Bernstein said there have been an average of 125 Strip arrests for violations of the order from May to October.