A new tracking software is being launched in the city of Philadelphia as police work to crack down on what they call “nuisance” businesses.
“Unchecked nuisance businesses cultivate the ingredients that breed crime and violence,” according to a press release from the police department.
If a business receives three “blue” violations within a year and does not take action to resolve the issue, the business could potentially be closed. “Blue” violations include chronic violations such as littering, loitering, cars blocking sidewalks or illegal drug activity.
Then, critical incidents such as shootings are listed as ‘red’ incidents. A company may see a notice of intention to cease operations from the police in only one of the red incidents.
Officials held a training session Wednesday for officers to learn how to use the new software that should allow for faster reporting.
It involved the use of police tracking software and officers hope the technology will keep residents safe.
“The end goal is to change behavior, not to close businesses,” said Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Professional Responsibility and Legal Affairs Fran Healy.
Officials are calling this new program the Philadelphia Police Department Nuisance Unit.
“Nuisance companies are harmful to neighborhoods,” Council Member Jaime Gauthier told NBC10. “These are businesses where neighbors have filed complaints over and over again, and so in those cases where a company is a bad actor, where a company really takes away In terms of quality of life and public safety, the city must have the ability to act and the ability to act quickly at times, especially when violence occurs.”
Officials say these new powers given to them by the council could help speed up the process of tackling or closing a nuisance business.
Previously, initiating the legal process to have a business license revoked was something that only L&I could do. Police now hope this will help them resolve problems more quickly.
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 issues can impact the safety and bottom line of the entire area.
“We surveyed small business owners earlier this year and crime and safety are their top concerns. Half of respondents are affected by crime in general and are therefore taking steps to increase security around their business. This means that this not only impacts employee retention, but also customer visits, hurting their bottom line,” said Maira Christina Rios of the GPHCC.
The police want to work with companies to solve problems. Once they issue complaint notices, they want owners to reach out and see what steps they can take to resolve the issue.