City Desk

Club Owners to Pay More Protection Money

This could end up screwing up your favorite venue: Earlier this month, D.C. clubs were given notice that, for some of them, police protection would get more expensive. A city fund that previously supplied a subsidy to establishments struggling to pay for cops has been cut in half. "it's really going to hurt what we do," says Marc Barnes, owner of the Park at 14th.

Since 2006, various club and bar owners have been hiring "reimbursable details." Some have had no choice. If a place attracts the ire of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board or the police by, say, having a rowdy crowd or or violent patrons, they could be required to hire a detail. The hourly rate is a fat $55.71 per officer, and each detail is made up of at least two cops. The officers are paid overtime wages. Any money left over gets rather mysteriously absorbed into the Metropolitan Police Department.

In the past, the ABC Board has helped out those who qualified for the subsidy program by paying half the cost of details on certain nights. But that was when they had $1 million to play with. Because of recent budget cuts, they'll only be able to spend $500,000 in 2011, so hard-up establishments will only get a 25 percent subsidy. Barnes knows how much MPD detail costs can sting; once, back when he owned Love nightclub, he paid 50 officers to patrol an event, he says—"not that they all showed up." Barnes believes the new, steeper costs of details may prompt some clubs to start operating "under the radar" by opening their doors without calling MPD.

"Actually, we are probably lucky that they didn’t have to eliminate the entire $1 million," e-mails Skip Coburn of the D.C. Nightlife Association. "D.C. has a huge budget deficit which the city is trying to deal with. The D.C. Council (and themMayor) had to make difficult cuts..."

True enough. But why is the city continuing to force club owners to pay for a protection service they may not want, if funds aren't available to cover the costs anymore?

A spokesperson for the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration was not immediately available to comment. But in a letter to licensees, the board wrote: "Please know that the Board did not consider this decision lightly, but determined the adoption of these emergency rules was necessary to lengthen the amount of time that funding remains available for the Program."

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  • Rick Mangus

    This bullshit can be cut from the DC budget!

  • Stating the Obvious

    "True enough. But why is the city continuing to force club owners to pay for a protection service they may not want, if funds aren't available to cover the costs anymore?"

    Because the clubs often suck up a disproportionate amount of police resources. I get paid overtime to handle whatever club zone I work so that the units working that shift don't have to handle it. How bad do you think response times and patrol presence would suffer in places the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Police Districts if the limited number of midnight units had to be constantly sitting out on 18th St., K St., etc. babysitting the club crowd and putting out fires before they start?

    These clubs might not want to pay for the security, but they need to shoulder some of the burden, otherwise resources get taken away from the rest of the community.

  • Grumpy

    Whoa...Protection Rackets?

    Where's Johnny Noodles and Tony Four-Fingers and Jimmy the Gooch at? Hey, call Tony Clams and the Finetti Bros. and tell 'em 'We gotta problem', eh?

    Youse don' wanna pay?

    You fuggin guys better pay up or ELSE!!! FUGETABOUTIT...

    Louie, where's the gabbagoo? And tell Frankie ta bring da car...

  • http://dcist.com Widness

    does this mean Park at 14th will close?

    yes please!

  • Person in DC

    This is getting ridiculous. The reimbursable details serve an important purpose of regulating establishments which create large crowds that are gonna cause police problems. The ridiculous reporting CP is doing on this so-called "issue" fucking ridiculous. You guys officially are ethically bankrupt. You don't even ATTEMPT to show the reason this policy exists. Instead you would rather rail on MPD even more.

  • Screw the Media

    Everybody bitches when amateurs like the staff at DC9 try to restore order and something awful happens - or when rent-a-cop thugs beat the hell out people. This is a much better, safer, and more professional way of handling the late night crowd. And, since the club owners and their patrons create the need for these details, let them shoulder the great majority of the cost.

  • ontarioroader

    I wish Park on 14th would close down. They routinely block the southbound rush hour lane on 14th St with staff & supplier vehicles for a large part of the evening rush hour.

    Regarding the need for clubs to pay for MPD details - it's very simple. If your establishment attracts an clientele that causes problems, you either take steps to reduce those problems [such as by marketing yourself differently] or you pay MPD to take care of the problems you attract [and profit from].

  • INSIDER

    this fund was put in by Jim Grahman as a favor 2 Marc Barnes 2 help 2 cover cost at his huge clubs MPD protection bill. thats why Grahman wont give up contol of the district ABC board. he move the control of the ABC 2 the new committe her chairs now. Mark pays jim back with his twice a year cental american get of way.were he has a couple of new youngs boys who he take care of as we speak. jim man ted is not able 2 be his excort since he cant travel. just wanted 2 give my 2 cents.

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