Club Entourage set to re-openPublished 11:27pm Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Club owner Clyde Richardson said his club, Club Entourage, is set to re-open this summer — one year after several shooting incidents outside the club turned deadly last June.
Those involved with public safety in Selma said this summer’s club scene has been quiet so far with no deaths or shootings, and they want it to stay that way.
Both Richardson and city officials said they will work to keep the entertainment district a safe place for all residents and will continue to put in place new measures to do so.
“You can’t take one isolated incident and turn your whole business around,” Richardson said about a shooting in June 2012, where two suspects stood in the doorway of the club and opened fire. A security guard returned fire, killing one and injuring others. “That incident did not happen in that club. It happened outside the club in the doorway,” Richardson said. “Security did their job.”
In late June 2012, the Selma City Council pulled Richardson’s business license citing there were multiple violent incidents involving the club. Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley said in the meeting to revoke the club’s license that his department was called to the club 22 times in 2010, 24 times in 2011 and 30 times in 2012 prior to June.
As Richardson prepares to reopen the club, he said he has been discussing safety measures with the Selma Police Department and other city officials.
“We are still up in the air about getting Selma Police Department [officers] to moonlight at the nightclubs,” Richardson said. “What that means is a police officer can go do another job on his off time, working in the club for security.”
Richardson said his club has metal detecting wands and walk-through detectors.
“We have it all. If you don’t want to be frisk-searched — then don’t come here. That’s the way it works,” Richardson said.
He explained that other than moonlighting officers, he would like to see an increased police presence in the downtown area for safety.
“If you have a party district, you have to have police presence,” Richardson said. “That district is a party district — Alabama Avenue, Water Avenue — that is all in the party district.”
Council representative for that area, Ward 8 Michael Johnson, agreed and said more manpower within the police department is what is needed.
Due to the fact officers are leaving the Selma Police Department for more competitive salaries, Johnson said that is a problem he wants to see Selma solve for the safety of all residents, including the entertainment district.
“Think about when the amphitheater opens up — that is a growing area and an entertainment area, so we need more man power from officers there,” Johnson said. “We need to find a way to maintain these officers to maintain officers downtown. We are losing officers everyday and we just lost two officers this week.”
Johnson said the city must get more officers patrolling downtown activities, but said the city doesn’t “have enough officers to do these things.”
“But on the same token, I don’t think the club is in charge of all the people walking around outside of the club — that is where the city comes in,” Richardson said.
Riley said his department would continue to monitor the downtown area.
Riley, however, did say he felt moonlighting was something that would not be acceptable and that he would not babysit the downtown clubs.
“We will continue to monitor our downtown area and we hope that the clientele that frequents the club will act in an according manor so that we don’t have any problems and will have the least amount of issues,” Riley said. “We will keep our eye on what’s going on but no, we are not a babysitting service as a police department. But we will keep our eye on what’s going on.”
Riley said if problems arose in the future with violent issues, he would take it before the council as he did last year.