So, Who Polices The Poo?
Enforcing an ordinance designed to limit manure on the streets of Sugar Grove Borough is apparently more difficult than it sounds.
That’s the message that Pennsylvania State Constable Michael Noe delivered at Monday night’s meeting of borough council.
Noe was asked to come to council and “present the constable side of your ordinance enforcement. Yes, the constables can do your ordinance enforcement to a point,” he said. “The one that you are looking at in particular, horse droppings, (constables) can’t touch that one if it occurs on a roadway while in motion and does not stop in the borough.”
“We are not allowed by law to do a traffic stop,” said Noe, who also serves as the municipal constable for Glade and Pleasant townships. “A buggy, a person on a horse, is considered a vehicle. (We) have to wait until they stop on private property” before making contact with the suspected individual.
“They have to stop before they leave the borough (or) within a reasonable distance,” said Noe. Council can establish the definition of a “reasonable distance” but “it’s a dead stop as soon as they hit the (New York) state line.”
But the potential problems continue.
“We can ask them for their information and hope they give a truthful answer,” Noe explained, “(and) hopefully follow through with it from start to finish if they ask for a court hearing.”
Two entities can enforce an ordinance such as this with traffic stops: a municipal police force, which Sugar Grove Borough does not have, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
Noe said the state police, as well as other law enforcement agencies passing through, are unable to enforce such an ordinance.
For constables, “it just boils down to ‘we are not legally allowed to do it,'” he said. “Once they are stopped, we can. That’s hoping they give us a true address, a true name..From my experience… they’re not too willing to turn in the correct person.” Prosecuting such an offense would rely heavily on visuals and the ability to identify the buggy, horse and operator.
“(Manure is) more of a problem on some streets than others,” Council President Kevin McIntyre said at the February council meeting. “We want to work with them. I don’t know how else you’re going to do it.”
Councilman Les Lyon asked then whether it has been an issue over the last 50 or 60 years. “It was,” Secretary Karla LoPresti said, explaining that she can trace discussion of the topic through council’s meeting minutes.
“I think we need to get creative and work with them,” said McIntyre. “We have to think outside of the box.”
Nicklas said, “It comes down to how are we going to work together as a community to solve this.”