Local pawnshop owners attend public hearing to discuss proposed ordinance

Published 9:07 pm Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Bainbridge City Council held a public hearing for its proposed pawnshop ordinance at its meeting Tuesday evening.

“I’m not here tonight to ask you to do something or criticize you for what you’re not doing,” Claude Shirley, who owns and operates City Pawn said. “I’m here to ask you to do nothing.”

The proposed ordinance would require pawnshop owners to keep electronic records of all transactions including the customer’s photo and fingerprint and a description of the item. The records would then be shared with Bainbridge Public Safety. The ordinance also would require purchased items to be held by the store for at least fifteen days and pawned items for at least 30 days.

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“We’ve listened to the feedback that we’ve already received and the pawnshop owners seemed to be pretty unified in their opposition to the mug shots and the fingerprints,” City Manager Chris Hobby said. “I think we’re going to have to rethink whether that needs to be part of the ordinance. The intent of this was never to punish the pawnshops. The intent was to catch offenders.”

Shirley and David Hufstetler, who owns and operates American Pawn, provided input into the ordnance during the public hearing.

Shirley said that he would prefer to work with BPS to find an alternative solution that wouldn’t require electronic records.

“I’ll agree that there’s things that can be done and should be done and will be done if y’all want to work that way,” Shirley said. “I have no problem about submitting ticket numbers, items we took in on pawn, describing them, serial numbers and submitting them to the police department daily or weekly.”

Hufstetler, who owns multiple pawnshops throughout the region, voiced concerns about the liability of using a third party company to handle the electronic records, although he was in favor of the ordinance overall.

“My biggest concern is this third party involvement,” he said. “My concern is the liability to me. In their agreement that they would require us to sign, I’m not sure this is the most updated one, they completely and totally absolve themselves of any responsibility, any liability whatsoever for any breach of the database that we send to them which would be quite extensive.”

He added that he would be willing to provide records to BPS in other avenues including fax, email or by officers coming to the shop.

According to Hobby, the plan is to “go back to the drawing board” and draft a new ordinance with input from the pawnshop owners.

“Anything is on the table at this point,” he said. “We’re going to listen to what the pawnshop owners have to say.”

He said that the current plan is to restart the process with an initial reading of a new ordinance at the meeting on July 19.


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