By: Emily Guiles
Recently the popular restaurant in Muskegon Heights, Shell Mart, and the Chicken Coop, has had to change their store hours and cordon off parts of their parking lot. Both of these stores applied for waivers but Chicken Coop was the only one to receive it out of the two.
Muskegon Heights Police Chief Lynn Gill shed some light on how the stores have changed and why they had to enact the ordinance in the first place.
Gill explained that before the ordinance the police department was called out to either location on a complaint or disturbance at least once every Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Some days are slower than others, however it is never the owners of the establishments who call the police, it is the surrounding community. Which raises concern for the safety and comfort of the surrounding communities. The policemen know that they have to patrol those areas at certain times because the calls come so frequently at certain times.
With the ordinance in place Gill stated that a lot has changed. The police still patrol those areas but receive little to no calls any longer, although they still deal with a rowdy bar crowd.
In order to improve things even more Gill said that the perceptions of those particular places need to change in order to stop people from seeing them as safe places to commit crimes and be disruptive to the public.
Regarding Shell Mart Gill said that they have been inadequate over the years by not taking care of the problem and ignoring it.
When it comes to the relationship between the police department and neighborhood businesses Gill believes it needs to be stronger, but it is difficult because businesses don’t want to affect the bottom line, which is their profits. Gill believes that businesses need to be more aware of their effect on the community before businesses and the police department can fully cooperate with each other.