Police preparing to enforce nuisance ordinance.

This week city officials add a new ordinance to Panama City code but it won’t be enforced just yet. Police say more information is needed before officers can begin taking action. There are strong opinions from those who both like it and don’t like it. Authorities say, however, that raw call numbers could be misleading. Police respond to calls for help daily. But not every call generates a report, and not every report is a crime. PCPD Chief John Van Etten says many are informational. “People contact law enforcement to ask questions to ask questions about an issue and might have a problem but don’t wish it to be documented or it’s not a crime or municipal ordinance violation or criminal offense.” This week police administrators are examining an ordinance. The law, now known as the “chronic nuisance” ordinance, was passed last week by Panama City officials. The first section allows the city to take action against a property with five or more police calls in a month. The police chief says he needs clarification. “The last thing we want to do is for people not to be calling us when crimes occur. The commission has said that’s not the intent.” For instance the mall had 25 total calls and the Rescue Mission had 34 calls in March. Some resulted in reports, and most calls didn’t result in arrests. In the month of March even News13 had five calls for service. Two were traffic-related; drivers were speeding down Harrison Avenue and were pulled over in our parking lot. One instance happened back behind our station on Grace Avenue when a person hit his head and police were called. Section 3 of the new law throws out nuisances caused by third parties. Chief Van Etten says enforcement could be difficult without more specifics. “Section 2 outlines and talks about criminal activity and violation of city ordinance or in the state of Florida statute, so those are some of the areas where we’ll seek clarification before any enforcement is done.” Commissioners say the intent of the ordinance is to crack down on properties that drain city resources and cause problems for neighbors.

 http://www.wmbb.com/story/17337741/nuisance-calls-examined
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