Club ordinance and strong communication keeps nightlife safe

By: Laura Geller - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It was a busy weekend in Shockoe Bottom and The Slip, but even with the large crowds police have no reports of any violent incidents.

Some Richmonders thank a new nightclub ordinance, others credit good relationships with the police department.

There are hundreds of restaurants and bars that don't have to comply with the new law because it is structured around how much dance floor space a facility has.

Still, those not effected tell us they're working to keep you safe.

On Saturday night in Shockoe Slip, where restaurants and bars dot East Cary Street, thousands of people wait in lines to experience nightlife at Richmond hotspots.

The set up brings large crowds to just a few places in a short period of time where the possibilities of problems are endless.

RPD Lieutenant John Beazley is in charge of the area.

"Inside a club you might have 150, 200 people," he said. "Outside on the streets you might have 1000 or 1500 people. So the problem that was being caused inside is really minimal when you compare to what could happen outside."

One of those incidents occurred in a parking lot outside Have a Nice Day Café.

Just this week Kevin Cunningham was convicted for the murder of Jeremy Uzzle, who was shot and killed when a fight turned deadly.

That's why many bars have created good working relationships with police, even hiring off-duty officers to have a visible presence at the doors.

There's a continuity of control when security has to kick out a potential troublemaker.

Bartender Jack Lauterback sees these very situations all the time at Cha Chas Cantina.

"When something does happen in here our bouncers usually corral the situations and bring it to the cops and they squash it immediately," he said.

In the late hours, the bar is almost always packed with people soaking up the atmosphere, and the alcohol.

Lauterback says it adds another volatile factor.

"We definitely always follow up with the cops because when a person gets kicked out of a bar, more often than not they're going to go to another bar and cause problems," he said.

Beazley says club owners have been very receptive to the department's security ideas and in turn, he meets with any businesses that have safety concerns.

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