City councilor pushing for pawn shop ordinance in Springfield - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

City councilor pushing for pawn shop ordinance in Springfield

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

Since March, city councilor Tom Ashe has been pushing for an ordinance that would require pawn shops to register the items they get in a computer database.

According to police, the computer program called NESPIN, the New England State Police Information Network, would help solve cases.

Business owners told CBS 3 that it would send customers out the door.

"State police have developed this NESPIN program," said Springfield police Commissioner William Fitchet. "It's very comprehensive, the confidentiality is secured. It's a very safe and secure network."

But business owners, like Michael Sarkis of the Springfield Jewelry and Diamond Exchange, believe the network is the problem. He said his customers would have to have their picture taken, stored and available to police departments in New England and beyond.

"You can't profile someone selling something used as hypothetically being stolen or not stolen, valuable or invaluable," said Sarkis. "That's why the constitution was written. People have a right to privacy."

Sarkis said his company already keeps a log of the used jewelry that they buy. He believes the added computer element would drive business away.

"Ninety-nine percent of my customers would walk out the door," Sarkis stated. "They do not want to be profiled. They feel like they're being discriminated against. It's a complete violation of people's privacy."

This case should come to a head on Monday, Oct. 21,  when Ashe will move for a vote from the entire council, to bring the ordinance to the floor. Fitchet said a yes vote cannot come soon enough.

"Every day that goes by is a day that we're not using technology of the police department and other police departments, working with state police and working with their program," said Fitchet.

Along with using the computer program, the ordinance would require pawn shops to hold used jewelry for 30 days, as opposed to the ten days where it stands right now.

Ashe said that is consistent with other cities similar in size with Springfield.

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