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Proposed Ashland Ordinance Requires People Provide Their Names, Birth Dates

Ashland Police

Ashland city councilors are considering an ordinance Tuesday night that requires someone who has been stopped by police to provide their name and date of birth.

Ashland police say people are increasingly refusing to provide their names when they are stopped for potentially violating a law.

An Oregon Supreme Court ruling in 2017 concluded that this sort of  “passive behavior” wasn’t in itself a violation. But without a name and date of birth, police can’t issue a ticket.

Ashland police chief Tighe O’Meara says the decision has made it more difficult for officers to ticket people for violating laws like urinating in public or walking a dog off leash.

“Right now what we have is an increasing number of people who understand the current legal situation,” O’Meara said. “When we catch them violating the law, they just stand there and don't say anything.”

So Ashland police are asking city councilors to consider a local ordinance that would require people to provide that information if they are suspected of breaking the law.

ACLU Oregon legal director Mat dos Santos says the ordinance unfairly targets people who are homeless, a pattern he’s noticed elsewhere.

“Around the state of Oregon, we are seeing the emergence of ordinances that have the language of public safety, but are actually an attempt to control and get at the homeless population living on the streets,” dos Santos said.

As it’s written now, refusing to comply with the ordinance could result in a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $200.   

April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Previously, she was a news host and reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.