The city is looking to expand its business curfew ordinance to cover portions of 12th Avenue and Union Avenue to tackle crime problems in both streets by forcing businesses to close at midnight, according to an ordinance before the city council.
The amended business curfew ordinance will include Union Avenue between Redwood Avenue and Kearney Street and 12th Avenue from East 18th Street to East 24th Street, according to the proposed ordinance. The ordinance also expands the business curfew to another portion of 12th Avenue from Straight Street to Auburn Street, according to the ordinance.
“12th Avenue is a constant problem,” said Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman. “Any given night there’s 200 to 300 people out there.”
There have been several shootings on 12th Avenue in the past year. Police director Jerry Speziale said at the end of December the violence plagued street would be added into the business curfew ordinance to improve quality of life and public safety.
“This is not going to do anything,” said Alex Mendez pointing to the addition of Union Avenue to the list. He said he has asked the police department several times to deploy police officers to that troubled area of Union Avenue. He claimed the quality of life offenses are committed during the daylight hours in that section.
Mendez said he has asked police to deploy the new special police officers to the main thoroughfare of the Hillcrest and Totowa sections to no avail.
“We have specials in that area,” said Speziale.
Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman, has been lobbying to get Union Avenue from Preakness Avenue to West Broadway under the business curfew ordinance, but the lack of data hindered his recommendation.
Speziale said there was not enough calls for service and other data police use to determine whether a specific location is a crime hot spot.
“We base it on empirical data,” said the director. “You can’t add a spot arbitrarily.”
The business curfew ordinance is being challenged by a group of business owners, said the director, and it cannot utilize subjective criteria to designate a street as a hot spot. He said the goal is to ensure all areas added to the business curfew are done so in an objective manner based on data.