FISHERS, Ind. — Certain businesses in Fishers are now subject to fines if they call 911 too often with the city citing excessive calls taking police away from other important duties.
If the city’s public safety team finds a commercial property to be a “chronic violator” of the new Public Safety Nuisance Ordinance, any additional calls for service could cost business owners a $250 dollar fine – if the business also fails to enter a remediation agreement with the city.
“The goal is not to fine them,” Fishers Police Chief Ed Gebhart said. “The goal is just to meet and get better together.”
Gebhart said no businesses have been fined yet. The ordinance just took effect last month, and applies to the number of calls within a 90-day window. High call volume was a key talking point in a panel during the mayor’s State of the City address this week.
“We know that they’re a problem, we know that they’re a challenge,” Mayor Scott Fadness said Wednesday. “Are we going to be proactive or reactive?”
The public safety team started meeting with business owners in hot spots of the city. Gebhart said they’re confident it’ll help keep officers where they’re needed. He referenced one location excessively hanging up on dispatch with more than 20 calls in the last 60 days.
“We found with that particular business, it was as easy as training their staff when they’re working in and around the business not to knock the phone because it was dialing 911 accidentally,” Gebhart said. “These are things that we’re targeting more than anything.”
During Wednesday’s panel, Fire Chief Steve Orusa described a recent gas leak at a restaurant. Because police are tracking public nuisance data, he said firefighters quickly realized it wasn’t the first incident there – and identified the cause.
“Now that restaurant is up and running. They’ve got a great rating,” Orusa said Wednesday. “We don’t have to go on any more gas leaks.”
OneZone Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Jack Russell said he is also optimistic about the ordinance, saying the response from businesses has been positive.
“Our business community now really has a point of contact within its city, not only to address certain issues that they have through our public safety team, but also with those high call volume areas, what we’re starting to see our plans in place,” Russell said.
The city is not naming specific businesses that have been linked to excessive calls, but officials say chronic offenders are typically a few large retailers and hotels.
Business owners are given a warning after 7 calls for service within 90 days. After 10, they’re required to meet with the public safety team with the goal of reducing calls before getting a fine.