Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Learning from Other Cities

Last night, at the Common Council Police Committee meeting, the main topic of conversation was the amendment to the "disorderly house" law. As expected, the meeting drew a large audience of people with a variety of concerns--some who feared that the amended law would give police license to raid houses where people congregate, some who objected to holding the property owners responsible for what happens in their buildings, some who called for more innovative community policing, some concerned this was another way of displacing people, some arguing this was just another burden for landlords providing affordable housing, some voicing concerns about gentrification and "benign bigotry," and others who asserted that the police need a stronger tool to deal with the violence the city has experienced in recent months. Dan Udell was there to videotape the meeting, and when the video is ready, Gossips will provide the link.

Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who once chaired the Common Council Legal Committee, discussed at length a "disorderly house" ordinance adopted in Syracuse in 2014. The law was brought to the attention of Alderman Rick Rector (First Ward) by Rebecca Wolff, of Affordable Housing Hudson, and Rector, in turn, brought it to Friedman's attention. According to the Syracuse law, police can label a house disorderly after an arrest has been made there, and neighbors have called 911 with complaints about the house at least three times in a month. The owner of a building so labeled is notified by the police and has thirty days after receiving such notice to meet with the police and devise a plan to remedy the problems. Failure to comply subjects the owner to a fine. Friedman encouraged the Police Committee and the full Council to study the Syracuse law and begin the work of crafting a similar law for the City of Hudson.

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