The city is looking at establishing a new specialized enforcement unit that can answer late-night bylaw complaints.
Hamilton councillors voted Wednesday to look into starting a “fully equipped and highly trained” unit to investigate calls from 1 to 7 a.m. The officers may be special constables who are armed, Coun. Sam Merulla said.
“As long as there are no issues with the police, we'd create a department of special constables who can defend themselves, whether it be with firearms, bats or some other way,” Merulla said.
Late night bylaw enforcement is an issue. City bylaw officers don't feel safe answering calls on their own, Merulla said. In the past, they called police to accompany them on calls. Five years ago, council opted to eliminate a step and have the police answer bylaw enforcement calls themselves.
But police answer calls in terms of priority, and noise complaints — the bulk of late-night bylaw calls — “truly fall at the bottom of the list,” he said.
“It's not the fault of the police,” Merulla said. “This was trial and error.”
Coun. Scott Duval supported the resolution. Late-night enforcement is an issue on the Mountain, he said.
“We have a lot of complaints,” he said. People make noise on the streets and in parks, and “they know it's not a priority and the police ain't coming, so they keep on doing it.”
City staff will investigate the issue and report back to a city planning committee. Staff will look into what other municipalities do and also consult with Hamilton Police Service.