The number of trespassing arrests made by Annapolis, Md., police has tripled in recent months, a strategy officials say is helping curb serious crime in the state capital, reports the Capital Gazette. Officers made 367 trespassing arrests from April through September of this year. That was up from 101 arrests during the same time period in 2007. Most of the arrests were made in and around public and subsidized housing communities. The jump in arrests coincides with the first six months of Chief Michael A. Pristoop’s tenure at the helm of the department. He has increased the focus on foot patrols and other enforcement in public housing communities.
Police say arresting people for petty crimes, like trespassing, helps drive the rate of major crime down. But critics wonder if the enforcement has gone too far and is infringing on people’s rights. Many of the arrests have been at housing projects. People also can be arrested for trespassing in parking lots of businesses and private communities if there are prominent signs warning that trespassers will be arrested. Trespassing is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine or both.