Home > Code Enforcement, Politics and building codes > Code Enforcement is Law Enforcement Part #1

Code Enforcement is Law Enforcement Part #1

My first position after law school was as an assistant state’s attorney where my entire training revolved around criminal law enforcement.  When I left the State’s Attorney’s office, I  began prosecuting municipal ordinances which included building codes.  At first I just saw them as minor cases to process but after awhile I began to see the connection between enforcing building codes and keeping crime rates low, especially in apartment complexes.  Fixing lights in a parking lot reduced drug dealing on a premises better than a team of police officers.  Forcing landlords to spend money on repairs made them more motivated to crack down on tenants who were trashing a building.  Over the years I’ve noticed a strong correlation between vigorous code enforcement and a reduction in police calls.  Just getting junk vehicles towed from a parking lot makes the tenants happier with their surroundings.   Unfortunately, sometimes those in leadership in law enforcement fail to see the connection and are reluctant to spend resources assisting building code departments.  This is shortsighted.  The code enforcement department can be a great resource for the police department and vice versa.  Police personnel get into residences all of the time on police calls and can be the eyes of the code department.  Code enforcement inspectors who are properly trained may see things inside a building that may be beneficial for the police department.  The local jurisdictions that recognize this relationship are the ones most successful in reducing crime in a neighborhood.  Now there is even scientific evidence for the “broken windows” theory, conducted by a university in the Netherlands.  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27825380/from/ET/#storyContinued Blighted conditions have an effect on the behavior of the people in those communities.   Code enforcement is an integral component of any effort to control and contain crime.

  1. March 2nd, 2009 at 15:46 | #1

    Great story on the blog. Keep them coming. Can I use parts of this story for my monthly newsletter?

  2. Linda Pieczynski
    March 2nd, 2009 at 19:44 | #2

    Wonderful to have your comments and see that you’ve been keeping track of me. Feel free to use this as long as I get the attribution with the website address. I’m trying to get the word out about the website. I think it’s vital to exchange ideas in this economic environment.

  3. Robert J. Schutz
    March 22nd, 2009 at 23:47 | #3

    Linda – What a great thought with a terrific example of employee cooperation for the mutual benefit of public health and safety. Makes me remember a situation when I was riding with a patrol officer who was sharing surveillance techniques with me as I was explaining new home construction. While talking about rough-in inspections, we observed the removal of shingles and windows in progress from a job site, which led to the exposure of a sizeable building materials theft ring in central-Ohio. Keep up the great articles and thanks for sharing. – Bob

  4. Linda Pieczynski
    March 23rd, 2009 at 15:07 | #4

    @Robert J. Schutz
    It was great to get your comments especially coming from you. I was glad we ran into each other in MN but sorry we didn’t in Las Vegas. I appreciate any input you can give me.

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