EVERETT, Washington — The Everett City Council approved a new law that will make it a gross misdemeanor for anyone to interfere or disrupt the functions at any medical facility in the city.
That includes disturbing the peace or trespassing on medical center property.
Everett has seen an increase in problems at its hospitals and medical clinics due to homelessness, drugs and mental health problems on its streets.
In recent testimony to the city council, prosecutors cited examples of gangs who have engaged in disruptive behavior when a member has been brought to a hospital for treatment.
At Providence Medical Center, the third-largest hospital in Washington, metal detectors are used to screen people coming into the emergency room. Staff is trained in de-escalation techniques for unruly visitors.
The hospital's Executive Director of Operations, Darren Redick, said the ordinance will be a big help.
"We have pretty good success in dealing with these situations ourselves," he said, "but in those cases when it escalates we have pretty strong support from Everett police. Anything that can be done to give police more tools is welcome."
A third offense under the statute would result in a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail.
Read the full ordinance below:
The city council voted to approve the ordinance at Wednesday night's meeting.