Calling it a public safety issue, officials in Vermillion County are considering a rule that would require door-to-door solicitors to register with the County Auditor and show identification to law enforcement officials upon request.
The ordinance, which was discussed at a Tuesday evening Board of Commissioners meeting at the county Court House in Newport, would require people going door-to-door to first show identification to the County Auditor and pay a $1 fee.
However, because of amendments proposed Tuesday night, the ordinance will now exempt not-for-profit organizations, such as the Girl Scouts and churches, from registering with the Auditor. The ordinance already exempted not-for-profit groups from paying the $1 fee.
“[Church representatives] said that was a light enough touch for them to be happy and it’s enough to make our law enforcement guys happy, so that’s what we’re going to do,” said Jon Spurr, attorney for the County Commissioners.
The ordinance is in response to people allegedly going door-to-door in rural Vermillion County pretending to be selling things, such as vacuum cleaners, when they were perhaps casing homes to burglarize, Sheriff’s Department officials said during the meeting.
“We feel it is a public safety issue, first and foremost,” said Commissioner Mike Craig, D-2nd. The ordinance would allow police officers to require identification of anyone going door-to-door. Without the ordinance, door-to-door solicitors could legally refuse to show an officer an ID, officials at the meeting said.
Spurr said the next step is to make the changes requested by the commissioners and then post a revised draft of the measure. The ordinance will then come back before the Board of Commissioners for possible further action. If more people raise concerns at that time, the ordinance can be tweaked again, he said.
Representatives of area churches attended the board meeting and expressed concern about the way the ordinance was originally written requiring pre-registration for anyone going door-to-door. By the end of the meeting, they seemed satisfied with the promised amendments.
“I’m willing to show my ID. It’s no issue at all.” said Keith McIntyre, pastor of the Independent Baptist Church in Montezuma.
Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@