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Sarno- 'Stay Away' ban

By G. Michael Dobbs, Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD Repeat criminal offenders and those who are on probation may get a message to stay out of Springfield.

City Councilor Domenic Sarno will conduct a meeting of the Public Health and Safety Committee on May 31 to discuss developing a new "Stay Away" ordinance. The meeting will be at 1 p.m. in the City Council chambers.

Sarno told Reminder Publications the new ordinance would be an additional tool law enforcement officials would have in combating street crime. Sarno said a long-time friend, State Police Lt. Tom Daly, approached him with ordinances from Richmond, Va. and Santa Cruz, Calif. that have been designed to notify certain offenders they are prohibited from being in designated areas of a community.

"We law abiding residents have to take an offensive to the streets," Sarno said.

Sarno was motivated in part by a 2:30 p.m. shooting on Belmont Avenue last week.

Any local ordinance would have to be collaboration between the State Police, the Hampden County District Attorney's office and the Springfield Police Department, Sarno added. He has sent information to Police Commissioner Edward Flynn, but has not yet heard back from him on the idea.

In Santa Cruz, Calif., repeat offenders of serious crimes are labeled on a case-by-case basis and cannot enter a downtown area without being arrested. The Richmond, Va., program called "Virginia Exile" concentrates on gun violence and carries mandatory sentences for gun and drug charges.

Sarno is also researching a similar ordinance used by officials in Baltimore, Md.

Sarno envisioned the ordinance would work like a restraining order or it could be a provision attached to probation.

When asked if the ordinance would violate personal rights, Sarno said he would want a court to consider that issue if it arises.

"We would take that up at that time," he said.