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Leaders taking a look at wording of Park Lounging Law
OKALOOSA COUNTY -- A law intended to keep vagrants from sleeping on benches backfired on a Fort Walton Beach family.
A visit from a police officer put a damper on their day in the park.
Laura Hussey "Today hasn't been a day you'd think about throwing down a blanket in the park, but remember how nice it was Saturday? Michelle McCormick and her husband brought their kids here to Fort Walton Landing to try and enjoy some of that sunshine"
The landing is a beautiful retreat by the Santa Rosa Sound.
It's also a hangout where vagrants drink and kill time.
Michelle McCormick "It makes my kids feel uncomfortable, it makes me feel uncomfortable as a parent, so I get the intention on what they're trying to do"
Michelle McCormick is talking about the Fort Walton Beach Ordinance that prohibits sleeping or lounging in the park for "protracted periods of time".
She never thought it would affect her family.
Michelle McCormick/FWB "My husband was lying down on the ground and the kids were jumping on him. So it was just normal family at the park day"
Michelle "An officer comes over and says sir, I'm going to have to ask you to sit up, there's an ordinance against lying down in the park"
Turns out a homeless man had complained to police, saying the family wrestling match violated the no-lounging rule.
Michelle "Apparently this particular person had gotten in trouble for violating that ordinance, and so was trying to make a point, if I can't do it, nobody can"
Their sunny mood ruined, the family left the park.
McCormick says she doesn't fault the officer for enforcing the law but suggests the wording may be too broad.
Michelle "The way that it's being misconstrued and abused by the people who were actually the target of it, there can be something better"
Laura Hussey "The city manager tells me city leaders will look at enforcement, and even the language of the ordinance itself, prepared to make any changes that are necessary.