Big Rapids DPS Cracks Down on Code Violators

by Published: Sep 11, 2013

Sunbathing Ferris State stu­dents loung­ing on yard couches can expect to receive a tan and a light­en­ing of their pocket books.

As the weather stays tem­per­ate, instances of lawn loung­ing may con­tinue for the fore­see­able future.

A vio­la­tion of city ordi­nance can include fur­ni­ture on lawns, noise com­plaints and exces­sive lit­ter on the premises, which can earn offend­ers a range of fines from $50 to $500 or even impris­on­ment for 90 days for atyp­i­cal cases.

“We had one [couch] on our porch. We sat out there until [the police] put a notice on our door,” Ferris auto­mo­tive engi­neer­ing sopho­more Ben Kloss said.

The notice they received did not include any spe­cific amount the fine would be if the sit­u­a­tion was not rectified.

Tickets are not always issued as a major­ity of stu­dents have been com­pli­ant to offi­cers’ request, and a ver­bal warn­ing may be sufficient.

“We would like to give ver­bal warn­ings, but we are keep­ing track of all these. If you have a prior con­tact regard­ing noise, we’re past the ver­bal warn­ing stage,” Big Rapids Police Officer Jim Eddinger said.

As a res­i­dent of Big Rapids and a 15-year vet­eran of the police force, Eddinger has seen the vol­ume of nui­sance par­ties and prob­lem stu­dents dis­si­pate considerably.

“I think stu­dents have got­ten a lot bet­ter over the past decade. You can tell that Ferris has high stan­dards with an active judi­cial ser­vice,” Eddinger said.

According to city reports, 1,729 enforce­ment actions were taken from code vio­la­tions, although no dis­tinc­tion between res­i­dents and the off-campus stu­dent pop­u­la­tion were noted.

“It typ­i­cally is addressed quickly; an offi­cer telling a stu­dent to take care of it is usu­ally enough,” said Eddinger.

Of spe­cific prob­lem areas, Eddinger noted that fra­ter­nity houses are a com­mon vis­it­ing place for offi­cers, but most are compliant.

“I think they are rea­son­able. When peo­ple get out of hand they cor­rect it,” Ferris senior auto­mo­tive engi­neer­ing Mike Sydow said.

He noted that the imple­men­ta­tion of the Padlock Law has been an active deter­rent. This local ordi­nance reserves the right to tem­porar­ily revoke a place of res­i­dence if three or more cita­tions are issued in a cal­en­dar year. The city can choose to exer­cise this ordi­nance if it sees fit.

“Tioga Park can be a lit­tle inter­est­ing; you will see some fur­ni­ture out there. We don’t want this on fire and it looks unsightly,” Eddinger said.

Calling a land­lord has also been imple­mented to curb a con­tin­u­ance of these problems.

Without a qual­i­ta­tive mea­sure to deter­mine whether a party is vio­lat­ing the local ordi­nance, com­mon sense has been the best tool.

“We’re not split­ting atoms here. It’s 4:30 in the morn­ing and you have guys scream­ing at the top of their lungs wear­ing adult dia­pers. That’s a prob­lem,” Eddinger said.

After a six-year hia­tus, the city of Big Rapids has rein­sti­tuted a bike pro­gram with four offi­cers patrolling the city lim­its on two wheels.

Officers hope to imple­ment this pro­gram to make early con­tact with party goers and increase their effec­tive­ness in the community.

“The whole sys­tem is set up for account­abil­ity,” Eddinger said. “For years we would go to the same house over and over again and there would be no con­se­quences. After years of this, the city has adopted new ordinances.”

  • reddog300

    Seriously? I have an idea, how about if DPS pays atten­tion to say…PUBLIC SAFETY, instead of all this petty crap? How about teach­ing the stu­dents how to cross the street, because many of them are lack­ing in this skill.

  • lol­wuf

    Darn couches, always mak­ing noise in the mid­dle of the night.