ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Local leaders talked about the new loitering ordinance that was passed by the Albany Common Council last week and how the police department plans to enforce the new rules. The main reason for passing a new loitering ordinance was to expand what police can use as probable cause and improve public safety, said Mayor Kathy Sheehan.

“The way that the city of Albany had drafted this ordinance years ago, was to narrow what was probable cause this expands it to include video or a statement from a witness,” said Sheehan.

The loitering law is meant to improve the quality of life for Albany residents, said Mayor Sheehan.

Police Chief Eric Hawkins said he is aware the police cannot arrest their way out of the issue.

“We want to make sure that this is a tool and that this is not a primary way of dealing with these but certainly we can use this to help to address those issues,” said Hawkins.

The expansion will help them utilize more public information when making arrests because the police department is not fully staffed.

Patrick Noonan owns a business near Washington Park, El Loco, and said it can be scary if people try to take the law into their own hands but said the ordinance is necessary. 

He is also the chairman of the Lark Street Business Improvement District and applauds the city’s efforts. Noonan said there’s one goal with the measure. 

“To get people down here and feel safe. There’s a lot of great programs that the police department is working on, they are also allocating a lot of resources for us so we are certainly in a position where we have taken some great steps to be able to improve the quality of life down here,” Noonan said. “Baby steps. It’s gonna take a while to fix.”

He said they have connected people to resources but said it’s taxing as a business owner to then have to switch gears and become a mental health counselor. 

Noonan said in recent weeks he’s noticed an increase in police patrolling the area and hopes the new law will help keep things safe as the holidays approach.