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Baltimore County looking to crack down on properties causing public nuisances

Baltimore County Police investigate Saturday morning shooting
Posted at 12:27 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-07 12:43:49-05

TOWSON, Md. — Baltimore County's longstanding “padlock law,” could be in store for some major updates.

On Monday, County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced plans to amend the law in ways that target locations that have received repeated public nuisance complaints.

Under the proposal, the Chief of Police would be able to take action if two public nuisance violations have occurred at a property twice within two-years.

Some of those actions could result in orders to close pending a hearing before the County Administrative Officer.

“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,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt. “We need this authority to effectively address the small number of establishments that repeatedly endanger public safety.”

Currently, when there have been repeated incidents of crime at a single location, the Police Department is limited in what they can do.

This bill would legally force the violator to cooperate with the Police Department to come up with measures that deter future illegal activity at the location

Here are some examples of activity at a property that could trigger police action under the proposed law.

  • For a violation of the law relating to prostitution or assignation
  • For adult entertainment that violates county code, licensing, or zoning requirements
  • For assembling for purpose of illegally administering a controlled dangerous substance (CDS)
  • For the illegal manufacture or distribution of CDS or paraphernalia
  • For the illegal storage or concealment of CDS or paraphernalia in sufficient quantity to indicate intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense illegal CDS;
  • For illegal gambling
  • For storage or possession of stolen property
  • For illegal storage of firearms
  • In the furtherance of a crime of violence
  • By persons who engage in a crime of violence on or near the premises
  • For criminal gang activity.

The Abatement of Public Nuisances Act will be introduced to the County Council on March 7.