Baldwin amends solicitation ordinance
Baldwin Borough leaders are adding extra protections to keep residents safe from those pesky solicitors who come knocking at their doors.
Borough council members in September approved amendments to the municipality’s solicitation ordinance that now require applicants to provide a criminal history check from their home state, completed within the last 30 days, if they want to solicit in Baldwin.
“We have an obligation to protect our residents,” police Chief Tony Cortazzo said. “A large majority of the people soliciting are on the up and up. The problems are the ones that have the history in other states.”
Baldwin’s ordinance requires each person looking to solicit in the borough to receive a permit from the police department. The ordinance precludes religious, nonprofit and charitable causes from needing to register.
It’s up to the police chief to approve or disapprove applications for solicitation.
Baldwin’s old ordinance required a recent Pennsylvania criminal history check to be submitted by each applicant.
Cortazzo, a longtime Baldwin detective who assumed the role of chief in February, said since he’s taken over the top job he’s found that nearly half of the borough’s solicitation applicants are out of state residents.
Pennsylvania criminal history checks only look at crimes committed in the state.
Under Baldwin’s new rules, the applicants must submit a PA criminal history check and one from their home state, to give the chief more to look at. They also must provide identification, details on the nature of their canvas, the dates they will be circulating the borough, along with a description of their vehicle.
While a criminal history doesn’t necessarily preclude someone from getting a permit, Cortazzo said he looks for recent signs of drug charges, theft by deception and fraud.
“Day in and day out, our job is to protect our residents,” he said.
The updated ordinance also requires the checks to be done in the last 30 days, taking away any ambiguity of what “recent” meant in the old ordinance.
Borough council members made the adjustments after the chief made the recommendation, borough Manager Bob Firek said. The goal is to protect people, he said.
If residents don’t want to be bothered by solicitors at all, the borough has a no-solicitation list that residents can sign up for by calling the police department at 412-882-9600.
Baldwin police will provide residents with a sticker to put on their door and each person who receives a permit to solicit will be given a list of the homes where they are forbidden from soliciting.