Excess Police Calls Ordinance Passed
At the regular September meeting of the Mount Pocono Borough Council, the Council unanimously adopted an Excessive Police Calls Ordinance drafted by Council Member Tom Ford, designed to curb excessive retail shoplifting police calls in the Borough. "Police service is almost half of our annual budget," Ford said, "This ordinance is intended to help curb some of those costs by transferring loss protection responsibility back to the retail store." Ford explained that, over the years, retail stores have cut back on spending for internal shoplifting protection, such as uniformed and undercover security. As a result, Ford said, there is less "on-site deterrence of shoplifting, which leads to more shoplifting, which leads to more calls to police to deal with them, which leads to higher costs for our residents." Ford pointed to a review a few years ago by former Mayor Fred Courtright. Mayor Courtright determined that one large retail store in the Borough was costing residents up to $50,000 a year more than the Borough received in real estate taxes from that retailer. "My ordinance is designed to level out that disparity in favor of our resident taxpayers," said Ford. Under Ford's ordinance, a retail store will pay for each call over two a month. In addition, Ford said that many stores fail to follow up on shoplifting arrests, so they will also pay for arrests made but not prosecuted by the store over 2 in any three month period. Council will set the amount of the fee to be charged at the October regular meeting. Ford said he asked the Borough representatives on the Police Commission to obtain the current numbers to be used to set the fee, but they have not followed through. "Based on the work that Mayor Courtright did for us in analyzing this problem, I am going to recommend the fee be set at $250," said Ford. At that rate, Ford estimates that the Borough could save as much as $35,000 annually on police service.