Citizens For A Better Norwood

Friday, July 27, 2007

Councilperson Moore answers a reader’s question

Several days ago, one of our readers named “J” left a comment under this blog we did updating the COP Program. “J” describes ongoing havoc tenants in one apartment are creating for everybody in the building and asks what the other 10 apartments' dwellers can do about it. We approached Keith Moore, and he provided a helpful answer for “J” and anyone else suffering from a similar problem. Thank you, Mr. Moore. As a reminder, cable subscribers can pose questions to Mr. Moore and Mayor Williams during the live broadcast of the cable show they host on cable channel 4 at 7:00 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Thursday’s of each month. If you miss the live broadcast, check the replay schedule, also on channel 4.

“J’s” Question: What can someone do about apartment residents who continually have the police at their apartment, are constantly fighting in their apartment, hallway and parking lot, throw stuff from their balcony if someone begins arguing with them from the sidewalk, have people yell from them in the middle of the night to come to the balcony because the apartment building is securely locked, who's relatives go to the basement and bust the coin operated washers and dryers to get to the money. The landlord knows this goes on but she lives in New York and the person she has as a manager comes over long enough to collect the rent checks from the box. The police come every time, sometimes someone gets arrested, sometimes they don't. What can the other 10 apartments do to have these people removed??

Mr. Moore’s response: Good question. For the most part, individual police officers (and building and health inspectors) respond to calls and resolve situations on an individual basis. If there are persistent problems with one person or group of persons, that may require a different approach.

When the police respond to a call about disturbing the peace or domestic violence or a host of other things, they are limited to what they see or what a witness will testify to about that particular incident.

There can be other ways to deal with people who are simply a nuisance to a neighborhood, but that aren't committing serious crimes.

And if there are serious crimes involved (such as drug dealing), an investigation can take time - during which the neighbors (and hopefully the dealers) don't know that the police are investigating.

I am glad to see that J and/or her neighbors have been calling the police, which is always the first step.

What I would suggest at this point would be to contact the Mayor directly at 458-4501 with the address and some dates and details about the problem. (Or call a member of council, although what we will do then is contact the Mayor.)

The Mayor can pull together information on runs and calls by the police, health, building, and fire departments, and then work with those departments and the law director to find the most effective strategy. That may include charging the tenants or landlord under the Disorderly House ordinance, a longer-term police investigation, code enforcement, executing outstanding warrants, or more informal approaches. And whether or not the landlord is available or cooperative is one of the factors to be considered.

There are a number of possible approaches, and which will be most effective will depend on the details of the situation. And the person most able to pull all the pieces together would be the Mayor.