SANDWICH – A new adjudication program for the city of Sandwich will keep everything local for parking, traffic and municipal code violations, which includes property maintenance and building code violations.
It will be in effect April 1. At least that’s the goal, according to Sandwich Police Chief Jim Bianchi.
Court hearings for violators will be at 1 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month at the Sandwich City Hall annex.
All fines are to be paid at the Sandwich Police Department, where a software management system allows police to track all city violations.
The policy to be used has particular plans and procedures, as explained by Chief Bianchi.
When city inspectors or police see problems with the maintenance of homes, buildings or properties, first they are to meet with the owners to discuss the problem and ask them to take care of the situation.
If the problem isn’t corrected when city officials return in one week, a warning citation will be issued that gives a specific time for the correction of the condition. If it’s not resolved by then, a violation will be issued and a hearing will be held.
If the hearing officer designates the owner is liable, a fine will be assessed.
Bianchi further explained the police will work with the owner to find ways to resolve the problem and the fine could be waived if the problem is rectified.
“We want to help clean up the city and solve issues, not punish the owner,” is how Chief Bianchi described the city’s plans.
Even personal issues will be addressed differently, by adding a component of required counseling for problems such as family matters, chemical dependence, disturbing the peace, trespassing, battery and theft.
Law enforcement can suspend or put a hold on the fine if the violator goes to counseling. The violator could seek help from area groups, including churches, for needed assistance.
Previously, these problems would be handled by county courts, Bianchi said, and they’d be on an individual’s criminal record.
If handled in the local adjudication program, the violations do not go on that person’s criminal record, he explained.
Chief Bianchi stressed that the Sandwich police will try to use laws available to the department with the intention to prevent crimes from happening.