Since the Getting Rid of Drug Dealers article got a lot of attention I thought that I would follow it up with some info on our chronic nuisance program.
The main purpose of a police department is to enforce the laws and protect the citizens of the community which it serves. Often times, the police are called upon to ‘solve problems’ that affect the community as a whole or just a specific neighborhood. Many times these problems are not criminal in nature and may be viewed by some as minor when compared to other crimes; however these problems affect the quality of life for all of us.
Here in the Fox Cities and the Village of Fox Crossing, our quality of life has been an important part and reason that many of us choose to live and raise families in this area. Studies have shown that when these quality of life problems go unaddressed, they tend to lead to much bigger problems such as drug dealing, thefts, burglaries, and crimes of violence.
Over the years we have been working to encourage neighbors to take on more of their responsibility for preventing crime on their property and in their neighborhoods. We have also made efforts to improve the way we, the police, address problems with nuisance activity in residential neighborhoods. What property owners, landlords, managers and so on can do is learn how to keep illegal activity off your property and make a commitment to removing or stopping it the moment it occurs.
In 2008 we were facing a spike in calls for service, many being repeat calls to the same property for nuisance type of activity. We began researching this problem which led to the creation of a chronic nuisance program and ordinance aimed at not only reducing these calls, but increasing our communication with landlords and property owners and working collaboratively to resolve many of these concerns.
The program is not all about enforcement and fines; the focus is on education and increased communication. We often look only to the police for solutions and forget that neighbors, landlords and property owners have tremendous power over the basic health of a community. The most effective way to deal with nuisance activity is through a coordinated effort with police, landlords, property owners and neighbors. Although, for those property owners that do not wish to work together and if problems continue on their property, there can be enforcement action taken.
The ordinance allows for three nuisance calls resulting in an arrest or citation on a property within a year. The police department will notify property owners and landlords of these calls and begin working ahead of time to curb future calls. If a property were to receive three such calls, we will meet with the property owner to explain the concern and the need for assistance in combating the problem(s). If the property owner fails to or refuses to provide any assistance, the village can issue a citation for maintaining a public nuisance and bill the property owner for any future nuisance calls to that property.
Since 2008, we have witnessed a tremendous drop in repeat nuisance activity. The program, dubbed “Operation Sweep” was awarded as a finalist for the Wisconsin Association of Community Oriented Police Sir Robert Peel Award. We have also worked with other communities throughout Wisconsin as they look to create a similar program. In addition to working with other law enforcement agencies, we have partnered with the police departments in Neenah and Menasha and along with Rental Finders to host landlord training classes.
The Fox Crossing Police Department is committed to developing cooperative relationships with landlords and property owners. The following information is provided by the Fox Crossing Police Department to assist landlords and property owners in screening prospective tenants and keeping illegal activity out of their rental units.
If you are looking for info on the program, contact me and I can send you more info.