The Downey City Council has passed an anti-loitering ordinance to give police a way to fight drug dealers.
Under the law passed unanimously Tuesday, police may question and arrest an active gang member or suspect who has been convicted of drug charges if he "behaves in such a manner as to raise a reasonable suspicion that he . . . is engaged in an unlawful drug-related activity."
It is modeled on an ordinance tested in the San Gabriel Valley city of Monrovia.
In May, the state Supreme Court denied a challenge of the law by a man arrested for drug loitering by Monrovia police. He was convicted and received a 30-day sentence.
"Monrovia went through the legal hoops already," Councilwoman Joyce Lawrence said, "so we don't have to be on the cutting edge."
The law, which goes into effect April 8, gives police officers more leverage when questioning people loitering in front of schools or on streets where drugs have been sold.
"We don't have any specific target areas right now, but it's something more to put in our enforcement arsenal," said Lt. Terry Pruitt, who oversees drug and gang units.
Violation of the law is a misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of $500 and six months in County Jail.