Las Vegas plans to increase its use of legal powers to force homeless people who are considered dangerous or unable to care for themselves to receive services, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. That effort might begin in earnest today, with Mayor Oscar Goodman looking on. Marshals this week received training in how to exercise “Legal 2000,” the authority that allows law enforcement officers and medical professionals to hospitalize individuals deemed mentally ill for up to 72 hours. “I’m the one who’s spearheading this,” Goodman said when asked why he plans to go to a park where residents have complained that the large number of homeless people prevents them from using the facility.
This year, the city has issued six Legal 2000 measures, forcing six individuals to be hospitalized for 72 hours. Most of those were issued to inmates at the city jail. Residents say they deal with homeless people urinating and defecating in their yards, and many feel too intimidated to use the park. The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada called the plan unconstitutional and counterproductive in dealing with homelessness. Some homeless advocates said more focus should be put on increasing services. Allen Lichtenstein of the ACLU said the constitutionality of the city’s use of Legal 2000 will depend on how it is enforced. “We’ve said all along, enforcing the law is fine; enforcing it aggressively is fine,” he said. “They can’t target certain people based on status, such as judging how people are dressed, if they’re poor or rich.”