Laws penalizing cop calls are more than a nuisance
About 25 municipal governments around Pennsylvania have laws on their books that put some residents in the position of losing their homes if they call police.
That sounds ridiculous because it is. But, fortunately, the state Legislature has begun to restore state citizens' right to call the cops without fear of draconian penalties.
Many local governments have "nuisance" laws under which they can take action against bars that repeatedly disrupt neighborhoods, or where police must make frequent appearances.
Some governments have adopted ordinances applying that idea to residences. Norristown, for example, had an ordinance by which a landlord could evict a tenant who called for police assistance three times in four months.
Norristown resident Lakisha Briggs called police twice early in 2012 to complain of alleged domestic abuse by her ex-boyfriend. When in June 2012 he reappeared, Ms. Briggs contends in a lawsuit, she did not call police for fear of being evicted from her apartment. She was slashed and stabbed with a piece of broken glass.
Local ordinances should not endanger residents by penalizing them for calling police. Norristown since has repealed its ordinance and replaced it with one that establishes a scale of escalating fines against landlords if their properties repeatedly are scenes of violence.
This week the state House passed a law outlawing ordinances like the original Norristown ordinance, which remain on the books in some Pennsylvania communities.
The Senate quickly should follow suit to reassure all Pennsylvanians that they can't be penalized for pursuing their own safety and justice.