Ohio Residents Upset Over 'Drug Zones' In Their Backyard Operating Procedure

January 27, 1999 12:00 am

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ACLU News Wire: 1-27-99 — Ohio Residents Upset Over ‘Drug Zones’ In Their Backyard Operating Procedure

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EAST CLEVELAND, OH — A city program using street signs to designate certain neighborhoods as “drug zones” may force out criminals, but residents are also worried the signs could also hurt property values and scare away visitors, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported today.

The signs began appearing earlier this month in neighborhoods police labeled as illegal drug activity zones, the paper said.

But some residents feel victimized. One man told the Plain Dealer that he was upset “because people might think [he] was involved with drugs,” while others felt that the signs drove down property value in the neighborhood and made friends not want to visit.

“The signs are the tip of an iceberg of potentially unconstitutional conduct,” Ray Vasvari, Legal Director for the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, told the paper. “The police have a set of rules they must abide by in East Cleveland, inside drug zones, outside drug zones or anywhere. We have the Bill of Rights and a Constitution that applies to every neighborhood in America.”

The Mayor told the paper that the number of complaint calls from concerned residents had fallen since the signs had been posted (local police received 1,311 calls about illegal drug activity last year) and that police patrols had been increased.

Sources: The Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 27, 1999

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