Stricter punishment for club owners

Published 8:27 pm Monday, November 26, 2012

On Tuesday, Nov. 20, the Public Safety Committee for the Selma City Council met to discuss several items. One of those items had one council member say, “So why are we even discussing this?”

Last week at the regularly scheduled council meeting, owner of Club Entourage, Clyde Richardson, asked the council to reconsider keeping his business license suspended for one year. The license was suspended in June after a “straw that broke the council’s back” — there were six victims in a shoot out, one shot proved to be fatal.

Tuesday’s public safety meeting allowed Richardson to ask again to reapply for the business license. After hearing from Police Chief William T. Riley, Richardson was again penalized for his club’s poor response to the shoot out.

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“They tried to handle it themselves, they never called the police department until after the shooting,” said Linda Booker, a family member of the young male killed at the club in June. Booker and several other family members were at the meeting to ensure the council would keep Richardson’s business license revoked for the full year. But we think Booker brought up an interesting point, in other cities around the country if there is a violent act such as a shooting, the club is shut down forever, not just one year like Club Entourage.

The council has the authority to make the ordinance that if they so choose they can revoke a business license for more than one year, they could revoke it for five year, ten years, etc.

If the council were to increase the time a club was closed following a violent act, we cannot help but wonder if this would push club and bar owners to tighten security and cooperate more with the police department.

Richardson will get his business license back and approved come June of 2013. Whether or not Club Entourage will return at that time has us skeptical if the club security has learned a lesson, or if they still think the problem, “Lies in the people who come to the club, not the club,” as Richardson told the council.

We want to challenge the Selma City Council to amend this ordinance to require a business license be revoked for the minimum of two years, if not more.

The club scene in Selma has been relatively quiet since the closing of Club Entourage, but lets all knock on wood just in case. The greater the punishment, the more clubs will cooperate.