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Portage beefs up ordinance penalizing property owners for excessive police calls

Porter County D.W.I. Task Force

The city of Portage is looking to crack down on owners of properties that see a large amount of criminal activity. The city council Tuesday tightened its existing ordinance outlining the penalties for excessive police calls.

Police Chief Michael Candiano said the bulk of the problem stems from a few of the city's hotels. "Over approximately a year-and-a-half period, we had a certain number of our hotels that had accounted for over 1,160 calls during that time period, as opposed to the other eight hotels that had accounted for shy bof 500," Candiano told council members.

Under the updated ordinance, properties with more than 10 calls a month could be fined $250 per call. After 20 calls, that fine doubles. City attorney Dan Whitten said it also clarifies the process of taking property owners to court.

"The idea here is to encourage these owners to police their own facilities because these calls are becoming very cumbersome," Whitten added.

This comes as the Portage Police Department has been particularly busy, with officers responding to some major incidents in recent weeks. "Recently we've had an armed robbery involving a vehicle pursuit; a burglary involving a stolen vehicle, which turned into a vehicle pursuit; a domestic situation which involved a firearm, narcotics and a vehicle pursuit. And in each of these incidents, all the suspects were taken into custody, very minimal injuries. Firearms were recovered. Property was recovered," Candiano explained.

He said the Region definitely has a crime problem, but he felt his department's efforts in sharing information with the public may make the city seem more unsafe than it actually is. Candiano said that so far, the number of police calls this year is on par with last year's.