Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Can't Find Your "Victim"? Make The Community The Victim

Kansas City, Missouri Police Chief James Corwin is another police chief that is a pretty prolific blogger. It seems that more and more Departments are taking to social media such as blogs, Facebook and Twitter to get their message out.

Over at Chief Corwin's Blog on Friday, Chief Corwin posted about an unusual solution to a problem that is plaguing quite a number of communities since the mortgage/foreclosure crisis hit the US, that of absentee owners creating problems for criminal prosecutions. From Chief Corwin's post:

But a new ordinance could finally force criminals who prey on vacant properties to face jail time. The ordinance is under legal review right now but could come before the City Council soon. It would prohibit anyone from entering, damaging, or stealing from a vacant property.

“In essence, the City would be the victim,” Officer Cooley said.

Officer Cooley started pushing for the ordinance after riding along with Cleveland, Ohio, police during a vacant properties conference in October 2010. Cleveland officers said the problem had gotten so out of hand that thieves were causing explosions by stealing natural gas lines from vacant houses. The new ordinance allowed Cleveland to list the city as the victim of these crimes when no property owner could be contacted. Assistant Kansas City Prosecutor Beth Murano said no one has challenged Cleveland’s law.

We're pretty fortunate over at the sleepy little burg where I work that we haven't had a huge problem with absentee owners. However, this is an innovative solution to the problem they were facing in KCMO. It's also one where it took some outside of the box thinking to solve this problem.

Too often people look at a complex problem, then at the existing rulebook and shrug their shoulders thinking that nothing can be done. That may be the case if you play by the existing rules. However, if the problem is vexing enough, why not think about changing the rulebook?

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