PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — City officials say some businesses allow loitering, littering, physical fights and illegal parking — sometimes opening the door to gun violence. Now they’ve rolled out a new way to track which businesses are most offensive.
The Philadelphia Police Department is training officers on a new software program to help track businesses to determine which aren’t doing their part in creating a safe space. Department officials have dubbed the program the “Nuisance Unit.”
Deputy Commissioner Fran Healy says they will send a letter to an offending business about the issue — and if there are three incidents in a one-year period, they will order the business to shut down.
“And if a cease operations is issued, they have five days to respond. That’s critical,” he explained.
“We are not here to shut businesses down. We want them to change behavior quite simply, but if they don’t, the police department has a much more aggressive tool to make sure that we are in sync with [Licenses and Inspections] for an ultimate cease operations order.”
City Councilmember Jaime Gauthier says she sees it in her own district, the third district, which is much of West Philly.
“We have a store at 40th and Market where, after a series of complaints, unfortunately a 19-year-old was murdered in that store. We have a nuisance auto business in Parkside, where, complaint after complaint after complaint, there was a large fire because of the huge amount of tires amassed on that property,” she said.
Officials say police will work with businesses owners to not only work out the issues, but also improve their security and create a safe environment.
“If our residents are living here and paying their taxes, they deserve not only quality schools [but] quality facilities, quality businesses, just quality everything,” said City Councilmember Anthony Phillips.
“The businesses — you have a responsibility, and this legislation and this work that the Philadelphia Police Department is going to do, is going to ensure that.”