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Weitzel: Quality of life is something we all strive for

Published: Wednesday, June 18, 2014 1:27 p.m. CST
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Thomas Weitzel is chief of police in Riverside

Well, as you can see, summer is certainly upon us. With the summer months, nicer weather and more people being out and about using our public parks, public ways and just simply enjoying the outdoors, the police calls for service involving what is generally referred to as quality of life issues have skyrocketed.

What may seem very trivial to one person is extremely important to another. As such, the Riverside Police Department has started targeting nuisance activities. What is a nuisance? My definition of a nuisance or quality-of-life definition that I have disseminated to my officers is as follows, "A nuisance is a legal term, is a condition or use of property that interferes with neighbors' use or enjoyment of their property, endangers life, health or safety, or is offensive to others".  This statement has been delivered to all patrol personnel within the Riverside Police Department so that we can deliver efficient and effective police community services when it comes to nuisance type of calls for service or incidents.

Just an example of the type of concerns residents have expressed to the police department within the last month alone are:  What can I do about noisy neighbors? What is the law regarding loud vehicle alarms? Can I do anything about barking dogs or animals running loose in my neighborhood?

The answers to all these questions are, yes.

The first step you should take is see if you can talk to your neighbors if you are on talking terms. If not, you can call the police department and an officer will respond to see if they can mediate situation. Ideally, with nuisance complaints, we would like to work out the situation with the neighbors and not issue citations or make an arrest.  However, if the situation is out of control, police will issue citations or in rare cases make an arrest if the situation warrants it.

As simple as this sounds, it is actually community policing. I recently read an article in a chiefs’ of police publication that stated there was a West Coast community that has hired "quality of life officers."  The community hired five new police officers specifically to target quality-of-life issues. When I read this article, I said to myself, "that is what my officers in Riverside do every day." Handling quality-of-life issues is at the core of what the Riverside Police Department and area police departments in Cook County handle on a daily basis.

When it comes to nuisance activity and nuisance-activity complaints, the biggest positive change that I have seen in recent months is the community seems to be stepping up and working with the police department in an effort to mediate these type of situations and stand up for their community.  For that I am extremely grateful. Let's keep working together.

Thomas Weitzel is chief of police in Riverside

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