A new tracking software is being launched in the city of Philadelphia as police work to crack down on what they call “nuisance” businesses.
“General businesses that go unchecked cultivate the ingredients that brew crime and violence,” according to a news release from the police department.
If a business gets three “blue” violations within a year and doesn’t take action to fix the problem, they could potentially be shut down. “Blue” violations include chronic offenses such as littering, loitering, cars blocking sidewalks, or illegal drug activity.
After that, critical incidents such as shootings are listed as “red” incidents. A business could see a notice of intent to cease operations from the police with just one of the red incidents.
Officials held a training session Wednesday for officers to learn how to use the new software, which is supposed to allow for faster reporting.
It involved using police tracking software, and in the process, officers hope the technology will keep residents safe.
“The ultimate goal is to change behavior, not to close businesses,” Office of Professional Responsibility and Legal Affairs Deputy Commissioner Fran Healy said.
Officials call this new program the Philadelphia Police Department Nuisance Unit.
“General businesses are advocates for neighborhoods,” Councilman Jaime Gauthier told NBC10. “These are businesses where neighbors have filed complaints over and over and over, and then in those cases where a business is a bad actor, where a business is really taking away from quality of life and public safety, the city needs to have the ability to act and the ability to act quickly sometimes, especially if things are violent.”
Officials say these new powers given to them by the city council can help speed up the process of dealing with or closing down a nuisance business.
Before, starting the legal process to have a business license revoked was something that only L&I could do. Now police hope this will help them solve problems faster.
It’s not just individual businesses and their neighbors that are affected by “nuisance” businesses, but the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce explained that these problems can affect the safety and bottom line of the entire area.
“We did a survey earlier this year among small business owners, and crime and security are their biggest concerns. Half of those surveyed had been affected by crime in general, so they are taking steps to increase security around their businesses. This means that it not only affects the retention of employees, but also the number of customer visits, so their bottom line is hurt,” said Maira Christina Rios of GPHCC.
Police say they want to work with businesses to solve problems. After they issue notices of complaints, they want the owners to contact them and see what steps they can take to resolve the issue.