New criminal offenses added to public code to benefit Baldwin
New criminal offenses recently added to Baldwin's public offense code will benefit the town in the long run, according to Police Chief Mike McKenna.
Baldwin City Council recently approved the addition of a series of criminal offenses in an effort to be able to process more of them in Baldwin Municipal Court instead of Douglas County District Court.
McKenna said the changes made to the public offense code were already offenses by Kansas state standards, but not considered criminal offenses in Baldwin. He said the changes to the local public offense code will make it easier for Baldwin police to enforce the law and for the city to reap the benefit.
"It was done because the municipal laws are the tools we have to work with," he said. "All of the changes we had passed are violations against the state and are punishable by state law.
"But this will give us the power to issue citations or notices to appear to people in violation of city ordinances," he said. "We wanted to have them come through municipal court because the fines from the violations will stay in Baldwin instead of being turned over to the county fund as in the past."
Offenses considered misdemeanors will be handled by municipal court, while felonies will still go through district court.
Some of the new offenses for Baldwin include damaging coin operated or ATM machines, leaving children unattended in vehicles, urinating in public, indecent exposure and a series of drug-related offenses.
McKenna said he wasn't sure why these changes hadn't been a part of Baldwin's public offense code before now.
"It may have been felt that they didn't happen frequently enough or it just didn't happen," he said.
"I'm not saying these are a problem now, but we just need to have the tools at our disposal in case we need to use them or enforce them."
He said the additions to the public offense code were done not only to give Baldwin criminal offenses equivalent to the state's, but to benefit the town as well.
"All of this is to make Baldwin a better place to live," he said.