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Brookline Police want to fingerprint the ice cream man

Posted by Brock Parker  September 14, 2011 03:14 PM

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Ice cream truck drivers would need to submit to fingerprint-based background checks in Brookline under a proposal before Town Meeting this fall.

The proposal is one of 19 articles on a warrant approved by Selectmen Tuesday for the Nov. 15 Town Meeting, which was already expected to generate controversy over a resolution asking the School Committee to stop recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance in Brookline Schools.

Town Meeting will also consider proposals to ban tobacco sales in Brookline drug stores, limit the number of day care centers that can use playgrounds at the same time and demand the town do away with all of the new multi-space parking meters that petitioners say are difficult to operate.

Under a proposal by Brookline Police Chief Daniel O’Leary, the police department is seeking to change its background check system for a number of business and retail license applicants, including ice cream truck drivers, taxi drivers, managers of a business with a liquor license, automobile dealers and door-to-door solicitors.

The town currently performs criminal record background checks based on the names of license applicants, but the system only searches through Massachusetts criminal records and does not include criminal records of other states or federal crimes. The name-based system also doesn’t catch crimes in which a person used a false name at the time of arrest, according to Brookline Police.

Fingerprint-based background checks are considered more reliable, and O’Leary’s proposal would enable the FBI to assist with the local background checks beginning in May 2012.

Also on the Town Meeting agenda will be a proposal by Town Meeting Member Tommy Vitolo that would join Brookline with the growing ranks of municipalities to ban tobacco sales in local pharmacies and drug stores.

Several Massachusetts communities, including Brookline neighbors Boston and Newton, have already passed similar bans since 2008.

Town Meeting Member Ruthann Sneider has sponsored a proposal asking that the town’s Parks and Recreation Commission to establish rules that would limit the number of day care centers and early education programs that could use a playground at the same time.

Sneider’s proposal claims that the day care centers have hundreds of children and too many kids in a playground at once can create safety issues. Her proposal would require that no more than one day care or early education program could use a playground at the same time and would limit the number of children in the playground from the day care or education programs to a maximum of 20.

Frustration with new multi-space meters that the town spent more than $1 million on has led to a proposal by Brookline Advisory Committee member Fred Lebow to replace them.

Lebow is asking Town Meeting to approve an article to either replace the multi-spaced meters with single space meters or retrofit the multi-space meters to make them easier to use.

Lebow’s proposal says the meters malfunction, are difficult to read in direct sunlight and require people to walk excessively long distances to the meter and return to their vehicles to place parking receipts on their dashboards.

The meters have just been installed during the last year, and the town has established a task force to look into problems with them.

“Sometimes it is important for the town to acknowledge that it has made a mistake,” Lebow’s petition said. “This is one of those instances—even if it may be expensive to reverse or to fix.”

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