Kettering residents hope for nuisance program to curb illegal activity

Some Kettering residents are asking city officials to enact the same ordinance that has helped Dayton, Trotwood and other area cities curb drug activity and other crimes in their neighborhoods. STAFF
Some Kettering residents are asking city officials to enact the same ordinance that has helped Dayton, Trotwood and other area cities curb drug activity and other crimes in their neighborhoods. STAFF

An ordinance that has helped cities curb drug activity in their neighborhoods has caught on with some local communities, and law enforcement has called the measure a valuable tool in helping to prosecute criminals.

Dayton for years has used a nuisance abatement ordinance to shutter suspected drug houses, brothels and illegal liquor and gambling joints.

In more recent times, Fairborn, Riverside and Trotwood have also have had success in implementing the program.

Now, some Kettering residents want their city leaders to consider the program, and city police said the idea is worth consideration.

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Police can declare properties a nuisance if they discover and can document illegal activities taking place there. The orders typically require a living or commercial space to be vacated for 365 days after being declared a nuisance.

Since 2008, Dayton police have served more than 2,200 properties with nuisance abatement orders, according to data released by the department. The orders forbid tenants, property owners and others suspected of wrongdoing from occupying buildings and housing units where criminal activity was discovered.

Fairborn recently launched its own program, modeled after Dayton’s, to fight back against crime, and Riverside officials said the city likely will use abatement actions more in the future.

Trotwood police Captain Dan Heath said he is currently reviewing and re-evaluating his city’s policy in an attempt to make it broader in scope.

“Our current ordinance is being compared to other jurisdictions to see if we can strengthen the ordinance and implement it on a broader scope, where the community is best served,” Heath said. “Currently, our nuisance abatements have been utilized primarily when a criminal drug case leads to the arrest of an occupant or resident of a residence.”

Kettering police would like to put the idea up for discussion and review details to see if it could be effective in the community.

“I have no doubt that a lengthy discussion on what offenses would fall under it and how enforcement would be carried out is something that would need to be done first,” said officer Joe Ferrell.

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A Kettering resident, Ellen Miller, told the city council at a recent meeting that her Kingston Avenue neighborhood has been overrun with illegal drug activity, and she’s hoping that the city will consider enacting a nuisance abatement program.

“We’ve put up with traffic coming and going and drugs being sold, other illegal activities going on,” she told council.

Miller said she put up security cameras to document activity, and the police have been active in dealing with the problems.

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Sam Sites said she agrees with Miller that a nuisance policy could help law enforcement combat problem houses.

“I have lived there for almost 25 years. It has always been a very quiet and very safe neighborhood,” she said at the council meeting. “I do have to say that when the police became aware of this problem, they have been excellent at coming in and patrolling at night, and in the last week the police have made three drug-related arrests. I do appreciate what the police are doing. I hope we can get together and get something done.”

Kettering police are already using a unique approach to combat illegal activity: they have reached out to residents who have home security cameras to register them with the department to help officers gather evidence in order to solve crimes.

“Burglaries, property crimes … a camera can obviously catch anything, but those are probably the primary things that we’re concerned about,” Ferrell said.

The new program has an online registration form on the city of Kettering web page. Officials are hoping more residents will sign on. For information, call Kettering police at 937-296-2555.

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