City, ICLU come to terms on enforcement

Paul F. P. Pogue

The city of Indianapolis and the Indiana Civil Liberties Union avoided a court battle last week by agreeing to a settlement concerning the enforcement of the city's noise violation. The ICLU was prepared to bring suit asking for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the ordinance, which the ICLU says is unconstitutionally vague and broad.

Corporate council Andrew Mallon, who is representing the city in this case, said that the agreement puts into writing the procedures already used by the Indianapolis Police Department in order to keep enforcement of the law within constitutional boundaries.

"We have an agreed stipulation in lieu of a preliminary injunction which lays out how the Police Department is to enforce the ordinance downtown," Mallon said. "Which is basically what they've been doing all along, but is formalized in this agreed order ... IPD came up with a way of enforcing the noise ordinance in a constitutional manner."

According to these procedures, noise violations would not be investigated until a complaint was made to IPD. Officers would then investigate and determine if the noise in question was likely to unduly disrupt an individual's ability to conduct normal business. Potential violators would first be given a warning and asked to cease creating the noise, and only in the case of repeated or persistent noise would a citation be issued.

The agreement also stipulates that no violation will be based upon the content of the message conveyed by the noise or the identity of the creator of the noise.

This step is expected to conclude the judicial portion of the suit. Mallon said that from here, city attorneys will be working on proposed permanent changes to the ordinance which will be brought before the City-County Council in January.

The ICLU initiated the suit in November on behalf of the Service Employees International Union, whose members stated that they had been reprimanded many times and cited several times in the course of their year-long Justice for Janitors campaign, which has included numerous downtown protests.

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