Council committee
approves new costs
for police services

Members say the bill
is necessary to ensure
public safety at events

The City Council Budget Committee has approved a bill that would allow the Police Department to charge organizations for added police services such as traffic control and security at "special activities" such as entertainment or sporting events.

City & County of Honolulu Council members said Wednesday that the measure is needed to ensure public safety at these events -- "and that comes at some cost," Councilman Nestor Garcia said.

The American Civil Liberties Union originally opposed the bill because it said the bill would violate lawsuit settlements with the city over previous free-speech parades and marches.

"Any First Amendment activity or event, the city is required to pay for all additional police costs and services associated with that event," ACLU Legal Director Lois Perrin told the committee. "While the ACLU is certainly mindful of the city's budget constraints, we do believe at the ACLU that the city can't balance its budget at the cost of the First Amendment."

But the ACLU later dropped its opposition after changes addressing the organization's concerns were made to the bill in committee.

"I have no problem with that," Perrin said after the meeting. "It's clearly in the spirit of the agreement."

The Council is slated to vote on the measure July 6.

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