How to get in trouble in Park City
October 28, 2008
Not everyone’s idea of a good time is the same.
Park City Police officer Mike Fierro said police feel empathy for international workers they have to bust for doing things that are legal in their country.
Whether it be drinking under the legal age or partying too loud late at night, laws and police enforcement aren’t the same everywhere.
That’s why Fierro, as part of a community committee on worker housing that includes representatives from the city, county and others, drafted a "How to get in trouble in Park City" list.
The list begins with the most major offenses that lead to instant deportation like dealing in heroine and also includes minor issues like how to interact with a police officer writing a traffic ticket.
Tim Dahlin, executive director of the Christian Center, will help distribute the list in welcome kits they have ready for the workers when they arrive.
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This is the first year such a measure has been tried to reduce problems the workers have while they’re here and to enhance their experience in Summit County.
"Makes all the sense in the world," said Phil Kirk, police department captain. "Giving them good information will help avoid pitfalls they might run into as visitors and workers. Knowing the information up front is going to be helpful to them and us."
Officer Fierro said he compiled the list by surveying officers in the department about experiences they’ve had with workers and what information would be useful to avoid problems.
"Every ski season it’s a re-education process each time," he said. "It’s dealing with the same issues."
There is no "epidemic" of problems caused by the workers, he said. But crimes, citations and incidents increase during ski season and the international workers are a part of that.
"I’ve been in calls where they invariably say they didn’t know it was illegal, in their country they can do it," he said.
One example of a very serious crime that younger workers commit while just trying to have fun in town, is swapping identification.
Understanding that they are under the legal drinking age in the States (even though they may have been legally drinking for years in their own country), workers will try to borrow ID’s and passports from friends to pass bouncers.
"We let them know these things are closely watched, and there’s zero tolerance," Fierro said.
One of the most common problems is noise disturbances from parties. Some visitors have trouble understanding how strictly enforced the 10 p.m. noise ordinances are.
"We try to be lenient and give a lot of warnings. But we will cite repeat offenders," he said.
It’s usually harmless in intent just too many people in too small of a space, he said.
Tim Dahlin of the Christian Center said he’s really excited about this list. He’s been called upon numerous times to appear in court and advocate on behalf of cited workers, but until now there’s never been anything done on the prevention side, he said.
"There are different cultural expectations like being out at night, drinking, that are not a big deal in their home countries. It’s a serious offense that they look at culturally instead of legally," he said. "Want to make sure they got their heads on straight when they come to town."
The list addresses the following concerns:
Driving under the influence.
Motor vehicle licensing and registration (insurance)
What to do if you are stopped by a police officer.
Any questions or concerns can be directed to the general number for the Park City Police Department, 615-5500