City leaders consider nightclub ordinance change

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – City council members representing West Broad and Shockoe Bottom have had it with violent crime. Today, they said in order to keep streets safe for everybody, something has to be done -- by changing what's on the books.

On the weekends last call at a club triggers a barrage of lights as police respond to an overflow of people on the street.

"These fights aren't starting on the street, these fights are starting in the establishment and then moving out into the streets," said Richmond City Council Member Charles Samuels, 2nd District.

This past weekend, a number of teens were arrested for fighting outside a teen party on West Broad.

"I got numerous calls that night, business owners and residents scared about what was going on," said Samuels.

Charles Samuels represents the area that happens to be headquarters for the latest teen parties. In the last few months there have been three reports of gunfire outside these clubs.

"This is a real concern to me that people are luring these young people into dangerous situations," he said.

In Shockoe Bottom, Richmond City Council Member Ellen Robertson has her own issues. Two men have been murdered in the last two weeks - both of them outside a bar.

"Anytime that there is a murder, it is a major infraction on the city," said Robertson.

While police patrols are boosted in W. Broad and in Shockoe Bottom, some city leaders are working towards a long-term solution, they say more needs to be done than placing a police officer on almost every street corner.

"I think we need to look at the regulation of the promoters, (and) the regulation of the businesses that allow these events to take place," said Samuels.

Re-visiting the nightclub ordinance could make all businesses in the Bottom follow the same rules, like making sure security is at every bar. An update could give police the extra enforcement they need.

"Hopefully we can minimize the chance of anyone getting injured and be in the right place at the right time," said Richmond Police Department Lt. Hamlet Hood.

The city's been reviewing its nightclub policy for one year, but that discussion's stayed internal. The nightclub ordinance has not come up at city council meeting yet.

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