Boulder police will no longer cite people for charging cell phones on city electricity

BOULDER, Colo. — Police in Boulder are changing course after facing public pressure for enforcing an obscure law that most everyone is guilty of breaking.

An ordinance, outlawing the unapproved use of city electricity, has landed some people in legal trouble for charging their cell phones. One woman even ended up in jail over the issue.

“We’re juice hungry ... we’ve got to have it,” a visitor to the Pearl Street Mall said on Friday.

Those in Boulder were surprised to learn it’s illegal to plug into outlets at most city-owned facilities or public areas— electricity paid for by Boulder taxpayers.

“[Police] use [the ordinance] to move people on,” said Darren O’Connor with Boulder Rights Watch.

Police write citations for “theft of a city utility” to primarily move homeless people out of certain areas, according to O’Connor.

“I avoid charging my stuff in public, and I just use the library,” a Boulder homeless woman told FOX31.

Nine people were cited over the past two years, according to Boulder police records. Gaya Jenkins was cited for theft while charging her phone. She said she didn’t show up to court and was eventually jailed.

“I was given the ticket because they didn’t like my attitude,” Jenkins said.

But attitude aside, people in Boulder don’t need to be too concerned. Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said violators of the ordinance will not be prosecuted.

“The amount of electricity actually stolen is extremely minimal here,” Dougherty explained.

Boulder police say officers will no longer be issuing citations for theft of city electricity.

“After consulting with the DA’s office and learning they were dismissing tickets we stopped issuing them as it would be a waste of everyone’s time,” Boulder police spokesperson Shannon Aulabaugh said in a written statement provided to FOX31.

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