The Union Bridge, Maryland, Town Council is proposing to start fining those who generate repeat nuisance calls — for fights, drinking, loud parties and the like, the Baltimore Sun reports.
Anyone causing a second nuisance call in a year would get a warning and a sign posted on the property. Subsequent calls in a year would trigger fines of $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for any additional offense. The policy would be unusual in the state, says an expert on Maryland laws.
“I deal with a lot of the municipal codes,” said James P. Peck, the Maryland Municipal League’s director of research for more than 20 years. “I would have to say that’s a new one. It would be rare, if not unheard of.”
Because the proposed ordinance does not specify what kinds of calls would fall within its scope, some people have raised concerns.
The mayor and council decided that if they couldn’t cut down on the number of calls, they would try to recoup some of what they pay annually to have the deputy provide police services for their town of about 1,000 people – $36,000 in the coming fiscal year.
“It’s unfair to the rest of us when a small part of the population uses the majority of the police force,” said Mayor Bret D. Grossnickle. “I don’t think we’re out of line here with wanting the offenders to pay for these police calls. They’re creating the problem. Loud music, partying, drinking, fighting, it’s all these things, not domestic violence or other crimes.”
Grossnickle said the ordinance would apply to any property in the town. The ordinance has been revised to specify police calls to individual apartments rather than to an entire building, said Town Attorney John T. Maguire II, after the mayor and several council members raised concerns at last month’s council meeting.
The problem is not unique to Union Bridge, but the solution is unusual, said Maguire and other officials.
“People have ordinances on the books that are not rare – dealing with fire alarms, burglar alarms going off,” Peck said, “but in regards to standard police calls, I’m not aware of anything on the books.”