Closing businesses deemed “public nuisances” would be easier for police under a bill to be proposed Monday by Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.
Current law allows the chief of police to close a business for up to one year after two convictions associated with criminal activity on the property — such as prostitution, drug distribution or violence — in a two-year span.But in the updated law convictions wouldn’t be required. Two police reports detailing criminal activity in a two-year period would be enough for a closure.
In that respect, the bill would bring the county’s “padlock law” into alignment with Baltimore City’s.
“This updated law will make it possible for our police department to prevent additional crimes by persuading operators of establishments to make reasonable changes, and by closing those premises if the owners refuse to cooperate,” Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said in a news release. “We need this authority to effectively address the small number of establishments that repeatedly endanger public safety.”
In both the city and the county, a public hearing is required before a business can be closed. To avoid closure, businesses can show proof they’ve abated the “nuisance” or post a bond (to be set no greater than the assessed value of the property).
Olszewski’s bill was expected to be discussed by the county council during its legislative session Monday evening. He’s running for reelection this year.
“Enhancing public safety and security in Baltimore County is a top priority and we are constantly looking for new ways to do so,” Olszewski said in a news release. “This proposal will provide law enforcement with a stronger tool to prevent properties from becoming havens for illegal activity.”