Some businesses in Fishers keep police officers busier than others, and the city has come up with a way to potentially remedy the recurring problem.
On May 15, the Fishers City Council approved a first reading of an ordinance allowing the city to fine businesses that make repeated calls for police response, unless those businesses are actively working with law enforcement officials on a plan to reduce those calls.
Fishes Police Department Chief Ed Gebhart said the goal is not to fine businesses, but to find solutions in cooperation with the businesses.
“What we’re finding internally is we’re spending a lot of time going on calls repeatedly to certain businesses,” he said.
He specifically mentioned hotels — not all, but some — that make calls about suspicious vehicles; and businesses with alarm systems that are accidentally triggered by employees on a regular basis.
Gebhart said the ordinance calls for police to contact a business that has had seven police calls within a three-month period to warn the business that it is approaching the threshold for intervention. After 10 police calls in that time frame, officials would arrange a meeting to start working on a plan.
“Our hope is that at 10 they enter into a remediation agreement with us to work with us to mitigate the calls for service,” he said. “When we get to 15, if it continues, if they’re working with us, fine. If they ignore us, if they’re not coming to the meeting, we would consider them chronic and they would get fined.”
The ordinance exempts medical facilities, schools and government agencies.
City Attorney Lindsey Bennett said the goal is to come up with common-sense solutions to reduce police calls.
“For example, for abandoned vehicles, we might ask that they register vehicles for guests at the hotel,” she said. For false alarms, “We would ask that they train all of their employees on their alarm system. As long as they’re working with the team and they are making progress — as long as they are making good-faith effort” they will not be fined.
If an owner doesn’t cooperate, she said, they will be designated a chronic violator for the next six months. During that time, each call for police response would result in a $250 fine.
Bennett said before the ordinance takes effect in August, city officials will meet with business leaders and have public meetings so people are aware of what is planned.
The ordinance must come back to the council for another reading and final vote.