|Polk County Enterprise - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
Drug-free, gang-free zones expanded in City of Livingston
BY VALERIE REDDELL
LIVINGSTON — For many years, drug offenses that took places in areas within 1,000 feet of a public school, playground or youth center, carried stiffer penalties but a revised ordinance passed by the Livingston City Council on Oct. 9 gets more precise, actually mapping these drug-free zones and adding gang-free zones within the city. The gang-free zones include areas within 1,000 feet surrounding the public schools within the city, namely: Timber Creek Elementary, Pine Ridge Elementary, The Intermediate School, the former high school building on East Church Street, Livingston Junior High and Livingston High School. Each of those locations are also designated as drug-free zones. Other areas include real property owned, rented or leased by a school; premises owned, rented or leased by an institution of higher education; playgrounds, public swimming pools and movie theaters. The map approved by city council includes Matthews Street Park swimming pool and an area of 300 feet surrounding it; the Matthews Street playground and 1,000 feet surrounding it. The statute defining drug-free and gang-free zones specifies a minimum number of pieces of playground equipment within a certain area to meet the definition of “playground.” The premises currently under construction at the 1000 block and on the west side of U.S. 59 to be operated by Angelina College are a gang-free zone. The premises of the Fain Theater at 113 East Polk St. and the area within 300 feet is a gang-free zone. Committing a narcotics-related offense in drug-free zone enhances the punishment by one level. Organized criminal activity within a gang free zone (any criminal activity involving three or more people) would likewise carry an enhanced penalty. If the offense would ordinarily be a Class A misdemeanor, evidence that it took place in a gang-free zone would enhance it to a state jail felony.