by Alex Lloyd Gross
Philadelphia Police held a training class for commanders and their staff at the police academy yesterday, to teach them a new tool to combat and close down nuisance businesses. A business is a nuisance when it attracts and does nothing to stop quality of life incidents in the neighborhood.
For example, “Two people sell weed from the corner store. They are customers but conduct their drug business from inside the store. Eventually, someone is going to get hurt or killed ” said Deputy Commissioner Francis Healy The store owner has to do something to keep this out of the area.
Stores that do nothing while customers park all over is another nuisance. “There are places in South West Philly where people park on the sidewalk, all over the place”, officials said. While hiring a security guard is not practical, placing signage discouraging illegal parking is free.
The city has a new computer program that will track complaints and coordinate with the Law Department and L&I. Each police district has a computer where these incidents can be entered and tracked. Example: Jason and Glenn own a bar. Police get called for a fight . That information is entered and the owners get a letter asking them to contact the District Captain within five days to address the problem. That letter is ignored.
Next week, loud music is coming from the car at 11:30 AM, and a large crowd of people is in front of the bar. Police are called. Another letter gets sent. Jason and Glenn are now running a chronic nuisance. The letter is ignored.
Another complaint about loud music, or even prostitution at the bar. This time, the city can bring about a process to close down the bar and put Jason and Glenn out of business, or at the least, bring about forced correction. Additional security, closing doors and windows to keep the noise down etc. They may even take away the privilege of having live entertainment .
Officials said they are not there to close businesses. They cannot control who goes into a business, but they are looking to keep quality of life in the city.
When asked about graffiti clean up, city officials were at a loss when asked who is responsible for clean up after a business is tagged.
This new programs goes live soon. A business needs three complaints in a 12 month period before the city will take action. Officials said in cases of violence, a business can be closed quicker.