Problematic Behavior or Activity
Continued trespass issues onto private property resulting from, but not limited to, illegal urban camping and transiency issues.
Impact on the Community
- Increased number of trespass issues on premises when a property (commercial or residential) is not open to the public, and the property owner is not on site.
- Many property and business owners complain of illegal campsites and other public nuisance activities. Oftentimes owners find remnants of garbage, body waste, and other incidents of public nuisance occurring when they are not present.
- A Trespass Letter of Consent (TLC) gives Salem Police officers permission to act on behalf of the property owner in trespass situations after hours, and when the property representative is not on the premises at the time of the incident.
Police officers do not normally have the authority to go onto private property, which is not open to the public, and remove individuals, request they leave the property, or arrest for trespass. The consent or authority of the property owner (or their representative) is needed. If an officer observes someone on private property when the business is closed, or a problem is reported by someone who does not have the authority to sign a trespass the complaint, the police department must first contact the person who is legally responsible for the property before taking arrest action.
A TLC gives Salem Police officers advance permission to act on behalf of the property owner (or designee) when trespass situations arise. The program use the permit module of the department’s records management system to maintain each TLC with the:
- Property/business name,
- Property/business address,
- Applicant name and date of birth,
- Mailing address,
- Home, business, mobile phone numbers, and email,
- Name and contact information for the secondary representative.
Registrations are valid for one year, and require renewal by the property owner or their designee.
No additional costs are required. The program is:
- Facilitated by the Crime Prevention Unit (promotions, entry into records system);
- Promoted by the Patrol Division to property owners;
- Maintained through a permit module in the records system.
The program eliminates the frustration by patrol officers and dispatch staff to locate contact information for property owners to notify them of the trespass issues, for example at foreclosure properties, or businesses after hours. The program allows patrol officers to address trespass issues immediately. The program provides property owners the means to partner with the department to keep their property safe, even if they are not directly available.
Critical Success Factors
Success of the program is attributed to:
- Patrol staff who promote the tool to property owners of locations where repeated trespass issues occur; owners are educated about trespass, its enforcement, and the benefits of participation.
- Willing property owners who understand the benefit, register with the program, and continue to register on an annual basis as required by the program.
The TLC program is not intended for use in multi-family dwelling properties.
- Civil rental contracts permit tenants to have guests. Should a property manager have an issue of removing an individual from the common area of a property, then the situation would be handled like any other call for service for trespass.
- Multi-family housing is not a business with regular hours of operation, thus the TLC would not apply.
- If property owners/managers have a repeated issue with an unwanted individual in their tenant’s contractual premises, then the owner/manager must deal with the situation via the particulars of tenant’s rental agreement.