Owners of Gary’s 53 service stations will get to weigh in on plans to require the businesses that are open overnight or that have been the scene of a violent crime in the past 18 months to provide armed security.

The Gary Common Council approved moving the amendment to the Public Safety Committee meeting 5:30 p.m. Dec. 15 to engage the service station owners at its Tuesday meeting.

Councilman Ron Brewer, D-At large, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the meeting will be conducted in person and not via Zoom and will include invitations to all gas station owners, not just those where incidents have occurred.

The amendment was proposed by Mayor Jerome Prince in the wake of the June 26 fatal shooting of Wallace Broadnax, a well-known and respected member of the community, at a gas station at Grant Street and 13th Avenue. Councilmen Mike Brown, D-At large, and Cozey Weatherspoon, D-2nd, co-sponsored the amendment with Prince.

Initially called the “Broadnax Amendment,” council members removed the name to not make one life impacted by violence at the city’s service stations more important than any other.

The amendment requires certified armed security at all service stations from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and 24/7 at stations with incidents of violence as outlined in the legislation. The list of violent incidents that trigger the ordinance is extensive.

Council members have questioned the cost, the impact on the community and whether the city would be able to enforce the law. They also questioned whether there could be any constitutional issues with such legislation and what the economic impact to the gas stations may be.

Councilman Dwight Williams, D-6th, said officials in committee had discussed adding local food marts that stay open 24 hours.

Council President William Godwin, D-1st, said at this time the amendment should remain focused on gas stations.

“I think that opens up a Pandora’s box,” Godwin said, adding an example of a shooting in front of a church Saturday. He said it is probably best to keep the ordinance in its current form dealing with gas stations for now.
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