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Peekskill Police Chief Proposes Law for Rowdy Parties Hosts

Chief Eric Johansen proposed a law for that would hold hosts of large gatherings responsible if the event impacts the quality of life of their surrounding neighbors.

Peekskill officials are examining ways to ensure police officials can effectively penalize residents who host parties and large events that get out of hand.

Police Chief Eric Johansen proposed that the city enact a nuisance party law that can be directed at people who host large gatherings during Monday’s Common Council work session.

Current laws allow police officers to enforce offenses such as open container violations, loitering and gambling when observed, but most do not target the host of the party, according to Johansen. 

“Anybody who has a party has the responsibility of making sure that it’s an orderly party and that the quality of life of the surrounding neighborhood is not affected by it,” Johansen said.

Johansen gave one of example of a party where cars parked illegally around a block.

“You could issue the ticket to the car, but the host is not responsible,” Johansen said. “But if this is an every week occurrence….eventually, the host should be held responsible.”

The legislation would also give police the authority to shut down parties. Police can only fine hosts at this point, Johansen said.

Johansen said there have been complaints in different parts of the city, including Constant Avenue, about residents hosting parties that have gotten out of control.

Johansen submitted three similar laws in Syracuse;  Cortland, Cortland County; and Oxford, Ohio; that were written with the purpose of penalizing people who host rowdy parties.

“In researching this, I found the majority of cities and municipalities that enacted this kind of legislation were college towns or places that had a large amount of vacation rental properties,” Johansen said.

Hosts who hold frequent parties that are deemed disruptive would face fines and possible jail time under the legislation, Johansen said.

Deputy Mayor Drew Claxton said she isn’t comfortable with the proposed legislation and she can see the law being abused.

“If I want to have a picnic or a barbecue in the back of my house three or four times a week and I invite my whole family, which is fairly large….If I’m making too much noise, come and knock on my door,” Claxton said.

Claxton also said she would like to see police enforce the city’s other laws, like the noise ordinance, first before moving forward with the proposal.

Mayor Mary Foster said she also had concerns about approving a law that some municipalities use to control college parties and using it too control parties in Peekskill. Foster said she'd rather approve a law that addresses behaviors that aren't currently addressed in the city's nuisance laws.

"The difference between ticketing the people who exhibit those behaviors versus ticketing the homeowner...I don't know if I'm comfortable with how you're going to differentiate that," Foster said.

Councilwoman Marybeth McGowan said the law needed find a balance between a party that's a little too loud and a nuisance party. McGowan said in many cases the situation can be resolved by a neighbor knocking on the door asking the host to turn the noise down.

"There’s another issue of it not being resolved the first time, than two hours later you’re going back for another issue…there does come a point when a party can become a real nuisance and I don’t know if the law balances that out well,” McGowan said. 

Councilman Darren Rigger said he envisioned a law where hosts wouldn’t be charged for throwing a nuisance party until they recorded a certain number of violations.

No decisions were made during Monday's work session.

Tired Peekskill Resident February 26, 2013 at 02:02 PM
The mayor and the common council need a reality check. They don't live in the neighborhoods where these "parties" happen everyday....I'm all for a nice barbaque, however, one continiuous volleyball game, gambling and men leaving the "party" in an intoxicated state and getting in their vehicles to drive away is way out of control...open your eyes people--
Walden Macnair February 26, 2013 at 03:05 PM
And so it goes. A new Police Chief is appointed due to his expertise, his dedication and his knowledge of the challenges faced within his jurisdiction, so the City Council can ignore his advice. This council has done nothing to improve the quality of life in the community and this is just another example of their ineptitude.
joshua tanner February 26, 2013 at 03:41 PM
The "parties" are really homeowners running social clubs out of their residences. They break out the booze and music for money just like a bar or pub. The noise, the drunks, the cars etc - only a stupid town would let these things go on all over the place they way like a third world village
Shaun McGuire February 26, 2013 at 10:06 PM
What about all the "salons" in town that close up shop, cover the windows, put up disco lights, and serve alcohol? How come the SLA isn't cracking down on those, either?
Teleman February 27, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Appoint the man because of his competence and expertise, then ignore his advice to improve quality of life. This council is clueless!
Karen Seymour February 27, 2013 at 03:22 AM
get rid of claxton and all rthe racist shit that comes out of ter mouth
shakemdown February 27, 2013 at 03:52 AM
i'm not a gambling person , but i'm willing to bet that the reason that the council is refusing to address this issue is because some of the ones throwing the parties are their friends or someone that they know.
Fitz February 27, 2013 at 11:34 AM
I leave on Constant and will support this new law. The parties really are a nusiance that disturb my husband and I in the middle of the night frequently when there is warm weather. If I cannot get a good night's sleep in my own home then I will rethink living in Peekskill all together. Did the Council realize that this important to attracting and retaining long term tax paying residents?
Luci Vale February 27, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Follow the money...this council is not clueless.
Peekskillnative February 28, 2013 at 03:40 AM
All of the people elected to Peekskill city hall are well aware of the PROBLEM. You all say your hands are tied. How many times do you want the police called. Every night? That's a bunch of crap. People paying taxes can't even relax in their own homes...can't park in front their houses. Twenty plus people living in one apartment...coming and going all night long...drunk, loud, having 'ahem' volley ball games all night. And how do you propose to find the 'host'? There are SO MANY PEOPLE living on one block of Constant Avenue, you would have to spend days going house to house. This is a damn disgrace.
Peekskillnative February 28, 2013 at 04:05 AM
And for the record, Ms. CLAXTON, this problem does not encompass family barbeques or family parties a few times a week. It is total disrespect for people who need to get up in the morning to support the people who are partying all night. Why do you act as though you have no knowledge of the problem? There is no knocking on doors at 3 in the morning, dealing with people who are habitually intoxicated and really don't care. I hope that all of the citizens remember, come election time, how well your elected officials take care of you.
shakemdown February 28, 2013 at 05:22 AM
the council does'nt give a rat's ass about the citizens of this city, as long as it is not happening in their neighborhood it's not a problem to them.

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