The time for counting calls is coming in South Bend
Three weeks from today on October 15th, the city’s Chronic Problem Property Ordinance takes effect.
It will place a cap on the number of calls to police and code enforcement that can be tied to a particular property before the property owner starts paying a price.
The limit for homeowners, business owners, small apartment complexes (under 50 units) and small hotels is five calls in a 60-day period.
After that, each additional call could cost $250.
Apartment complexes with more than 50 units would be capped at 12 calls in a 90-day period.
“This is about accountability and this is about improving our neighborhoods. Holding the owners of problem properties accountable for the multiple police calls that are often going to a single address,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg, (D) South Bend. “We have found that a startling proportion of emergency calls are often associated with individual addresses that have our folks spending valuable time and effort which translates into taxpayers dollars over and over and over again, going to properties where the owner won’t take responsibility and do something to make it safer.”
The apartment complex where Willie Boyd today walked his dog is the same one that saw police come running a whopping 526 times in 2012.
“To me, I see a big difference,” said Boyd.
There’s a different name—Courtyard Place is now called Cedar Glen, and there’s a different attitude on the part of management which now has a private security guard on duty every day of the week.
“We think that it’s already had a positive impact before even going into effect, it has been a wake-up call for property owners to work with us and work with police and the administration,” said Mayor Buttigieg.
“The bottom line is, it’s about quality of life and not wasting our taxpayer dollars over and over again at the same properties,” said Councilman Tim Scott, (D) South Bend’s 1st District.
While the ordinance won’t take effect until October 15th, a study of police calls in March and April of 2013 identified 113 different properties that each had five calls or more. The list included apartment complexes, night clubs, and homes.
Not all calls are counted against a given property. Only nuisance type calls are being targeted.
“We want to make it clear that if you are a victim of a crime you need emergency medical services, those calls are not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about police going to problem property, nuisance calls that the property owners, property managers, should correct before it becomes a police problem,” said Chief Ron Teachman, South Bend Police Department.
Property owners will be sent a warning letter after they reach three nuisance calls. They’ll also be given an opportunity to work with police on preventing future calls.