Building inspectors team up with sheriffs to stop unsafe construction
A pilot program in Queens will pair building inspectors up with sheriffs to crack down on unsafe construction sites:
Got trouble with a construction site? Now you can call a sheriff.
Indeed, thanks to a pilot program announced by the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) last Wednesday, residents of Queens may only need to do it once before the city takes action.
The new initiative in Queens would create two teams, each composed of a DOB inspector and two NYC sheriffs. Each team, armed with a list of sites that have active stop work orders against them, would patrol the borough looking for illegal activity, which they would subsequently shut down. [BDS]
This is great news.
Illegal construction is a huge problem in this city. The fact that 60 people showed up to a meeting to discuss the sheriff/inspector program is an indication of what a chronic problem these sites are for residents.
Too often, residents face a Catch-22 when they want to complain about disruptive or unsafe construction: The building inspectors are unarmed civilians whom unscrupulous contractors can just brush off; but the police don't know how to handle building code complaints.
This new program offers some hope that stop work orders will be enforced. Unfortunately, these teams will only have the power to send workers home for the day--but by increasing enforcement, authorities are de facto punishing illegal work more severely. If stop work orders actually stop work most of the time, contractors will have more of an incentive to avoid the safety lapses that get work suspended in the first place.