Lakewood City Council To Consider Bill That Would Re-Classify Domestic Violence Calls

Mar 19, 2018

Lakewood City Councilman Dan O'Malley says the city does not currently regard domestic violence calls as potential nuisances -- which means it makes even less sense to keep the old nuisance law intact.
Credit LAKEWOOD CITY COUNCIL

Lakewood City Council will be presented with a proposal tonight that could change how the law classifies domestic violence calls to police.

Currently, Lakewood is one of many cities with a “Criminal Activity Nuisance Ordinance” on the books. The law includes domestic violence calls. That doesn’t mean that committing domestic violence is considered a nuisance, but rather that numerous calls from possible victims could result in the renter being labeled a nuisance.

Councilman Dan O’Malley is introducing a measure to remove domestic violence calls from the ordinance, since tenants can be evicted by their landlords if the properties are labeled a nuisance.

“The nuisance law may be a very good tool, but this isn’t its purpose. And, by the way, the nuisance law -- even if you think it is a very good thing -- could have unintended consequences. And this is one of them.”

O’Malley says the laws should be used for things like multiple noise complaints or drug trafficking.

“Things that really do affect the tranquility of the neighborhood in a way where we should be motivating residents and landlords to shape up. But domestic violence is something where we shouldn’t at all be forcing a choice for people to seek protection or keep their home.”

O’Malley says the idea came to him after a recent report from Cleveland State University which showed that nuisance laws can unfairly punish victims of domestic violence. He plans to invite the study’s authors, as well as residents, to provide public input over the next several weeks. The councilman says Lakewood’s Mayor is supportive of the proposal, as are the council members he’s talked to, and the ordinance could be passed within a month.