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Sirens & Gavels

Plan to outlaw verbal abuse rejected

TWISP, Wash. (AP) — Leaders of the small northcentral Washington community of Twisp would like you to be polite in their town. But they're not going to ticket you if you're not.

On Tuesday, the Town Council unanimously voted down a proposal by new Police Chief Rob Hall to prohibit verbal abuse. The ordinance would not have outlawed swearing. But it would have allowed police to issue a $50 ticket to people who use violent abusive language in situations reasonably calculated to provoke a breach of safety or peace. Hall asked for the new municipal code after a customer went to a business recently and directed offensive language at the woman behind the counter.

At least a dozen people commented, and a majority were against the proposed ordinance.

Mayor Bill Boosman says while the proposal generally fit the town's feeling about civility, many felt it could infringe on free speech.

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