The Macomb Daily
City approves public safety cost recovery ordinance
Amendments made to original proposal
Eastpointe City Council approved a public safety cost recovery ordinance recently aimed at making criminals fiscally responsible for their actions.
Eastpointe Public Safety Director George Rouhib explained the ordinance is not meant to prevent citizens from reporting criminal activity to police but to make criminals pay for public safety resources used in the course of investigating or cleaning up certain crimes.
“Residents can call us as often as they want, they can call us 10 times a day,” said Rouhib. “This ordinance is not meant for that.”
Rouhib said it is aimed at habitual offenders: bars that have problems every weekend that require a large police presence; drag racers on Gratiot Avenue who crash their vehicles and require police and fire services for cleanup; or someone making a bomb threat.
“When someone makes a bomb threat or school threat on social media, we have to use our entire force,” said Rouhib. “It is not fair to the residents who pay taxes to have the resources they are paying for tied up for hours and hours because someone did something like this that they thought was funny.”
Since the ordinance was introduced at the Nov. 1 council meeting, Rouhib made a few changes to address concerns expressed by some members of the council. Domestic violence incidents, breaking and entering and malicious destruction of property were all removed from the list of circumstances where an emergency service fee might be assessed.
Mayor Monique Owens and councilpersons Harvey Curley and Rob Baker voted in favor of the ordinance at the Nov. 15 session; Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Lucido and councilman Cardi DeMonaco Jr. voted against it.
“I don’t think the police should be sending invoices,” said DeMonaco. “We’ve got a lot of ordinances that cover the same things that are addressed in this ordinance.”
Resident Nathan Hatton spoke during public comment at Tuesday’s meeting and expressed concern about the ordinance being too broad and far-reaching. Hatton said he has lived in Eastpointe for a year and has called the police several times to report drag racing, shootings, and break ins to homes and cars.
“I understand why the police want to do this, but I think this ordinance is overreaching,” said Hatton. “What about families experiencing a mental health crisis where they may need to call the police multiple times over the course of a week or a month? I’m worried this will discourage people who really need help from calling the police.”
Rouhib said he does not expect to use the cost recovery ordinance regularly.
“Honestly I don’t plan on using it that often; maybe a dozen times a year,” said Rouhib. “The commander will fill out a form at the station and submit it to finance; it will be mailed to the responsible party and they do have the right to appeal.
“If you witness something or are a victim of something, it has nothing to do with that.”