The Bossier Parish Police Jury has once again postponed passing an ordinance that would create stricter regulations for door-to-door salesmen.
The issue came up in January, after the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office reported that nearly two dozen people called in to voice concerns about suspicious door-to-door salesmen. According to BPSO Spokesman Bill Davis, the calls came from all over the parish, not just a single subdivision.
"We are finding there are only two categories of folks who do this, both are the ones we are trying to regulate, that are in it for ill purposes," said Bossier Parish Attorney Patrick Jackson.
"Some companies bring folks in and drop them off in neighborhoods without food or water [until they meet their quotas], some even canvas areas for criminal purposes, or you have these national companies, that have legitimate business interests," he said.
The jury put into a place a moratorium on issuing peddler licenses until they could draft stricter guidelines.
According to Jackson, their initial idea was to ban door-to-door sales completely, but federal courts have ruled solicitation counts as a freedom of speech.
"What we have to do is make sure it is difficult to get a license, when I say that I mean that only legitimate businesses will go through the process," Jackson explained. "It's really to make sure people with ill-will wouldn't want to go through the hassle of it," Jackson told the police jury.
Two national companies who rely on door to door sales have already had their legal team contact jury leaders to remind them it's the law to allow some sort of permit process for solicitation companies, Jackson said.
"Whatever we do, we don't want to get in a court situation and be shot down. It's a costly way of doing things. We don't want to reinvent the wheel but want to do something that will allow some degree of access, enough that it would satisfy the courts about the freedom of speech for commercial entities," said Police Jury President Doug Rimmer.
Jackson suggested while it may be required for the parish to continue issuing peddler licenses, neighborhoods would have the ability to prohibit solicitation from subdivision to subdivision.
Jackson said it is important to tighten their permitting process, to make sure each person knocking on doors has had a full background check. The idea is to not just vet the company, but also each person knocking on doors.
"What will ultimately be passed, will protect the citizens to a degree that the constitution allows us, because there is a feeling that the less we have of door to door sales, and peddlers the happier everyone will be," said Rimmer.
For a fee, background checks would either be performed by the Sheriff's Office or a private company, Jackson is still trying to iron out all of the details.
The peddler license ordinance will be brought up at their next Police Jury meeting on June 18, until then the moratorium on the issuance of licenses will continue.
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