Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Community Policing/ Soft Policing/ Code Enforcement Switch

By voting Monday night for Ordinance #13-09 (An Ordinance to Amend the 2009 Salary Ordinance – this is the “check” we have on administrative or personnel changes at City Hall.) the City Council endorsed Development Director Chandler Poole’s reorganization of his department. The old Buzz Grady job becomes the “Housing Program Coordinator”. The old Bev Shaw job becomes the “Marketing and Grant Administrator.” Curt Cunningham’s position (Over-Occupancy and Nuisance Enforcement) moves to the Police Department under the direction of a yet-to-be-named Code Enforcement Supervisor.

Our city has often cribbed ideas from East Lansing. This change mimics their “PACE” program; “Parking And Code Enforcement”. We’ll place animal control here too. (Ingham County does that for East Lansing.)

I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s time to try something new.

It should provide more eyes and ears for code enforcement. The “CAD” (Computer Assisted Dispatch) process should help us track complaints better. One phone number (775-5200 - the police non-emergency number) for nuisance and noise will be helpful.

Also, the change
focuses attention on enforcement in a way that can only be beneficially to this district. The enthusiasm for the program shown by Mayor John Dennis and by our New Chauncey police contact, Lt. Gary Sparger (he has visited East Lansing), is important. Recall too that with the passing of Ordinance #26-08 last September, a variety of nuisance violations can now be addressed by an escalating series of tickets issued through an expanded Ordinance Violations Bureau.

What could go wrong?

Ever called 775-5200? Training for those first to greet the public may need to be improved. Will the police really care? Most officers don’t live here anymore. I suspect they think we’re old, over-educated, over-paid and whiney; you get the same sort of snorts when listening to those outside WL comment on our school woes. I bet they did not sign on to the force to police trash.

Finally, it would be great if the new Code Enforcement Supervisor (experience in soft policing would be great) and the two Development Department hires demonstrated the City’s commitment to diversity. The city is not vanilla. The city and its police department is; mostly.

All this should begin around August 1st.

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