Leavenworth's police chief told city commissioners Tuesday that officers cannot enforce loitering laws.

Leavenworth's police chief told city commissioners Tuesday that officers cannot enforce loitering laws.

Chief Pat Kitchens said loitering laws were ruled to be unconstitutional in the 1990s by the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said loitering still appears on the books as a municipal ordinance in Leavenworth, but officers do not enforce it.

Tuesday's discussion about loitering laws followed a request made last month by Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Preisinger.

Preisinger said during an Aug. 8 meeting that he would like for commissioners to discuss "beefing up" loitering laws. At the time, Preisinger said there was at least a perceived increase in the city's homeless population. He said people can be seen in the area of storefronts as they wait for a local homeless shelter to open.

"Our officers have noticed a slight uptick in calls," Kitchens said Tuesday.

Kitchens said it is not illegal for a person to stand on public property, such as a sidewalk, and do nothing.

However, a person on public property can be arrested if he commits a crime such as disorderly conduct.

When it comes to private property, it depends on the wishes of the property owner. Kitchens said a property owner can request a person leave private property.

Preisinger asked the police chief if people can sleep in the common area of the Leavenworth Post Office.

Kitchens said someone in authority at the building would have to indicate the people are no longer wanted there before police officers can act.

Preisinger questioned whether a person can sleep in a public area at Leavenworth City Hall.

Kitchens said this behavior could be considered disruptive if there are events taking place in the building.

City Manager Paul Kramer said people sometimes come to City Hall simply to use wi-fi internet service and spend some time at the building.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR