HAMMOND, Ind. (AP) — If you need gas during early morning hours in northwestern Indiana, don’t bother stopping in Hammond come November. A new law will force service stations to close between midnight and 5 a.m.
The Chicago suburb’s 37 gas stations must close during those hours under a new ordinance designed to curb crime.
The Hammond Common Council voted 7-2 Monday to approve the ordinance, which takes effect Nov. 1, news outlets reported.
Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. championed the ordinance.
“Right now, every time there’s an incident in the middle the night, we have to deploy multiple officers,” McDermott said. “I have 14 police officers working at 2 in the morning, and five or six of them will be tied up at a gas station.”
Some Hammond residents expressed reservations.
“I’d hate to see people get stuck, just in case somebody is traveling and gets off and needs to have gas,” said Annette Nordgren.
The city’s Board of Public Works and Safety will consider exemptions to the ordinance based on factors including its proximity to expressways, the number of incidents the location has had over the past five years and whether it has a security presence.
“I realize there’s going to be a couple of gas stations open,” McDermott said, “because there are people that going to be stranded and they need gas — and we’re going to make exceptions for them.”
Jim Witham, who operates a large service station in the city, told the council that independent gas stations were willing to voluntarily close overnight for one year, but said the city should enforce the mandatory overnight closure citywide with no exceptions.
The ordinance was first introduced by McDermott in early July, weeks after a 33-year-old Chicago man was fatally shot at a Hammond gas station around 2 a.m.
Across the state line in Illinois, the Village of Oak Park approved an ordinance similar to Hammond’s, closing stations from midnight to 5 a.m. The village was sued, but the case was eventually dismissed and the ordinance remains in place.