Hamilton puts ‘no-knock list’ law into effect to protect seniors
HAMILTON (Mercer) — Residents can sign up for a "no knock" list to prevent solicitors from approaching their door and a "no drop" list to prevent unwanted fliers.
The new rules also requires door-to-door solicitors to undergo a background check. But free-speech activities, like passing out literature for campaigns or fundraising, are not affected.
Mayor Kelly Yaede said the initiative was an effort to enhance public safety, especially for seniors and young children. According to the Census American Community Survey in 2015, 21 percent of Hamilton's population of 89,000 is age 62 and older.
"Society has changed. You're seeing less and less people feeling comfortable with strangers knocking on their door. You hear of solicitors, one coming through the front door while someone is coming through the back door. You're more and more apprehensive in this day and age," Yaede said Wednesday. "When a senior came to me about this we started looking at what other other towns were doing."
She said the township is "keeping up with the times" and people aren't comfortable with people knocking on their door.
"In the '40s, '50s and '60s when people knocked on their door — company was here," the mayor said. Now, more often than not, it means bad news.
"If someone wants to knock on someone's door they can come get a solicitor's license. They can knock on the doors that haven't registered with the do no-knock ordnance."
Solicitors will have to register with the township and will have a background check conducted by Hamilton police.
One issue that Yaede said did not factor into the ordinance was the practice of "blockbusting," in which residents are aggressively and unscrupulously encouraged by salesmen to sell their homes. Brick, Jackson and Toms River have strengthened their own no-knock ordinances in recent years after complaints about real estate agents with ties to Lakewood frequently knocking on doors, pressuring people to sell their homes to Orthodox Jewish families.
"We haven't had that here in Hamilton Township where individuals are being approached to buy their home. That has not become an issue," Yaede said.
She added that nonprofits, political campaigns and religious groups are protected by the First Amendment and cannot be prohibited by Hamilton's ordinance.
Residents will get a decal to display on a door or window after they register with the clerk's office. They would remain on the registry for four years. Legal solicitors will be provided the registry
“Residents – particularly our seniors and families with young children — should have the opportunity to protect themselves from unwanted solicitations if they so desire. I believe our new registry offers an added protection for our friends, neighbors and loved ones – helping to enhance the safety of our community," Councilwoman Thornton, a co-sponsor of the ordinance, said.
Homeowners can also sign up for a "no drop" list to prevent unwanted circulars, including commercial and non-commercial handbills, leaflets, coupon brochures or other writings at their properties.
The ordnance takes effect immediately.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.