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Local News

February 4, 2013

Salem ordinance targets trouble houses

SALEM — By last fall, virtually every beat cop in the city knew the way to 53 Lawrence St., a home in the Castle Hill neighborhood.

Shortly before midnight on Friday, Nov. 2, many of the patrol cars working the night shift sped to that address. It was the same call they had made — and for the same reason — a half-dozen times before: loud party.

This time, however, it was worse than usual.

Police could see groups of young adults in the front and back yards of the house and 30 to 40 people inside. Another group was walking down the street toward the house, but turned around as soon as they saw the blue lights.

Initially, when police banged on the door, nobody answered. Eventually, they got inside and arrested one of the tenants on a charge of disturbing the peace. At that time, several Salem State University students were living there, police said.

Officers issued a court summons to another resident and to nearly 40 of the “guests,” all on the same charge — disturbing the peace.

A few weeks later, Salem Police took another step. They issued a criminal complaint against the property owner for being the “keeper of a disorderly house.”

It was not the first time they had approached John J. Camire about getting control of a house that was drawing an inordinate amount of police and community resources.

“It’s a landlord that has not addressed the issue any time,” said Sgt. Dennis King of the Community Impact Unit, which tracks disorderly houses.

The Salem News was not able to reach Camire.

Although police have had to deal with loud parties for years, and responded to nearly 300 such calls last year, they say they now are fighting back with more force and getting better results due to a “disorderly house” ordinance passed last May by the Salem City Council.

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