SOUTHINGTON — Town leaders are considering an ordinance that would charge a fee for excessive police calls, an attempt to recoup costs for frequent police responses to a group home on Birchcrest Drive.
The ordinance was expected to be discussed during Wednesday’s Ordinance Review Committee meeting.
Cheryl Lounsbury, committee chairwoman and former town councilor, said she doesn’t want to discourage residents from calling police, but also wants to address the number of calls made by the group home. She’s particularly concerned about domestic violence victims, who may need police often.
“If you’re the victim, you’re very susceptible to the abuser saying, ‘This costs me money, don’t ever call the police again,’” she said. “I don’t want anybody afraid to call the police department.”
The Birchcrest Drive group home, run by Bridge Family Center, provides around-the-clock supervision for girls who have been removed from a home by the state Department of Children and Families or who don't have a home. Most often they're sent into foster care in two months or less. Bridge Family Center is a subcontractor of the state Department of Children and Families.
Neighbors and town officials have complained that police are called frequently for runaway children and other problems. Group home officials say that changes have been made to minimize disruption.
Other towns have fines for excessive police calls, Lounsbury said, but her research has found some that are never enforced. She doesn’t want to enact an unworkable law for the sake of appearance.
Lounsbury also wants up to date data from the police department on the number of calls made by the group home.
“It needs to be researched,” she said.