Local News

Raleigh Council Considers Change To Nightclub Security Ordinance

Posted June 9, 2004 6:19 a.m. EDT

— Bar owners say an ordinance requiring them to hire off-duty police officers as security is a costly conflict of interest.

The ordinance was put into place a few years ago to help cut down on the growing problems at some bars. In an effort to strike a balance of fairness, city leaders are considering a change.

If there is loud music and the nightclub where that music is being played has its own parking lot, a sworn police officer is required to work security. It is the law that was put into place to help ease problems at area nightclubs. Some city leaders admit it has been an unfair burden for businesses to bear.

"Our job as public officials is to balance the safety of the patrons of bars without having an onerous regulation with excessive fees," said Councilor Philip Isley said.

Now they are trying to strike a balance.

The city is trying to make it easier for businesses to hire outside the Raleigh Police Department. They are considering exempting clubs that go a year without a problem. The city would also excuse clubs that close before 11 p.m. and have less than 75 people.

One of the biggest complaints about the current law is that Raleigh police are enforcing an ordinance that makes them money.

"Either you hire one of my buddies at $25 or $30 an hour or you're going to face a $500 fine," said William Potter, a nightclub attorney.

Because of that conflict of interest, the police department says the city inspection department should enforce the ordinance. A city council member says that department is overworked.

A committee will consider the proposed changes.