DC police directed to stop arrests for ticket scalping - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

DC police directed to stop arrests for ticket scalping

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WASHINGTON -

It is against the law in the District of Columbia to resell tickets to concerts and sporting events on public property. It is a practice known as "scalping."

But as of October 1 when the city's new laws went into effect, scalping was no longer on the books.

It is a surprise to lawmakers as well as police.

The signs on the front of the Verizon Center spell it out in no uncertain terms: selling tickets on public space is illegal, and if caught, you could be fined and spend up to 90 days in jail.

But as of last Friday, D.C. police officers were told in an internal memo that "members are immediately directed not to make any further arrests for scalping."

The reason, according to the police memo, is due to an "oversight" and the law was repealed.

"This did come from the executive branch," said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. "When the regulations were submitted to the council, there was a hearing, but all of the focus was on food trucks and I don't recall any discussion on this. I'm sure there was no discussion on this. If it came up, it clearly didn't get much attention."

Until FOX 5 brought it to his attention, Mendelson did not know the law had been repealed.

The council chairman firmly believes the law must be on the books.

"What I expect will happen, this is based on the [police] chief's teletype, is that emergency legislation will be submitted to the council by the mayor and we'll take it up and do a permanent fix to the regulations as well."

At Nationals games, fans get a constant reminder that scalping on public property is illegal.

But some people either do not get the message or ignore the law altogether and face arrest.

Law enforcement sources familiar with the law say scalpers have found ways to avoid arrest by making their sales on private property instead.

The chief's internal memo says emergency legislation to reinstate the law will be submitted to the council next month.

A source in the executive branch says the provision on scalping was deliberately removed after a baseball fan wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post describing his arrest for scalping outside Nationals Park.

The intent was to put it back in after internally reexamining the law, but according to the source, that never happened.

So, for the next few weeks at least, selling tickets on the sidewalks in front of Verizon Center will be perfectly legal.


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