Ferndale Considering New Ordinance After Complaints of Man Shining Laser Pointer at Students and Drivers
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Jan. 13, 2023)
Ferndale, MI – A neighbor near Ferndale’s University High School was questioned by police after students and drivers near the school called in reports of a green laser pointer being shined at them while around the school. While the City declined pressing charges, it has prompted discussions of a potential new ordinance against using such devices to harass others.
The incidents happened in November and December of 2022. A draft ordinance was on the City Council agenda for Jan. 9, 2023, but was removed for later consideration after council members wanted more information.
A Nov. 30, 2022 police report gives accounts from multiple victims who claimed to have had a laser light pointed at them on that day and the day before. The light caused fear and a potentially dangerous situation for those who were targeted while driving.
On that date police spoke with a man in a home near the school who had a green laser pointer. According to the report he told police he’d been playing with the laser pointer inside his home, but “was not intentionally shining it out of his window.”
The suspect was warned to be more careful.
On Dec. 2, 2022 three more victims reported similar activity, including one woman who said the light remained aimed at her car as she drove up E. Drayton, and into the parking lot, and remaining when the vehicle was stopped.
According to the police report, the same man questioned previously “stated he would stop with the laser and that it was stupid on his part,” and further stated “that he was just fed up with the school traffic.” The man also complained about a neighbor’s dog barking.
Updates on the reports state “This case was presented to the city attorney for review. The city attorney declined to pursue charges on this as well as the connected cases. The city attorney will present a city ordinance review because of these cases. This case is closed.”
While there may not have been clear legal violations at the time of the incidents, city administration has researched legal solutions, including a proposed ordinance that would make it a civil infraction to intentionally use a laser pointer to harass another person. It would also ban children under the age of 16 from possessing them.
The ordinance was pulled from the Jan. 9 agenda, but is likely to be considered at a future meeting. The provisions of the ordinance could change before going back to council. Several municipalities around the United States have laws regarding laser pointers, including the City of Dearborn which prohibits using them for harassment.
To keep up with City of Ferndale City Council meetings and agendas, visit https://www.ferndalemi.gov/.