Wauwatosa is seeking to institute an ordinance that would allow the city's law enforcement to issue citations to individuals who falsely swear as to a representation of fact.
Assistant City Attorney Eileen Miller Carter presented to the Community Development Committee on Tuesday a draft ordinance prohibiting false swearing.
Currently false swearing is a violation of state criminal statutes, which would require prosecution by the district attorney's office, but has not been adapted by the city as a civil forfeiture. State statutes include two felony provisions and one misdemeanor A provision, Miller Carter said, which might explain why some cases are not prosecuted.
"This gives the police some local teeth to prosecute people who come into the city and perform - the examples would be - transactions at secondhand stores where they're making sworn statements and oaths that the merchandise is not stolen or not found and that they are the legal owner," Miller Carter explained.
"There have been a couple circumstances where the police could have issued a citation or done something, but they didn't have this ordinance to rely on," she added.
Many other municipalities have similar ordinances, Miller Carter said. Although secondhand stores are a prime example of how the ordinance could be applied, she said that, if adopted, it could be logically applied to any situation where a sworn statement or oath is made, anywhere in the city.
District 4 Alderman Dennis McBride pointed out that the ordinance also would be helpful in addressing false statements made on bartending applications.
"As we continue to grow as an entertainment venue, I think that it's an important thing to have and I think will assist the LLC (Legislation, Licensing and Communications Committee) when it looks at applications," McBride said.
McBride asked that staff ensure applicants are warned of the penalty on the application,which would help to encourage compliance. Having an ordinance in place, Miller Carter noted, also is meant to serve as a deterrent to the act of false swearing.
The proposed ordinance will be introduced to the Common Council next week and be referred back to committee for additional discussion later this month, with a recommendation to return to the Common Council in early April. If adopted, it would take effect upon passage and publication.
WHAT: Community Development Committee to make a recommendation on adopting a false swearing ordinance
WHEN: Tuesday, March 26
WHERE: City Hall, 7725 W. North Ave.
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