Club owner says more police presence needed

Published 11:35 pm Thursday, September 4, 2014

The owner of a downtown Selma nightclub urged members of the Selma City Council Thursday to increase the size and scope of police presence downtown, or “someone is going to get killed.”

Clyde Richardson, owner of Club Entourage, who saw his club’s business license revoked for one year beginning in mid-2012 after a series of incidents took place in and around his club, said it is important for the council to put a focus on downtown streets, where club security personnel have no authority.

“Downtown Selma comes alive after 9 p.m. and the five or six officers who are asked to patrol the entire city at night simply cannot do it all,” Richardson said. “I am not asking for any new laws, I am simply asking that the laws that we have be enforced.”

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Richardson’s call comes just days after a brazen shooting took place in the early hours of Labor Day, where shots were fired into a crowd on Alabama Avenue right in front of the Selma Police Department.

“We need to do a better job building the foundation of our police department,” Ward 8 councilmember Michael Johnson said. Ward 8 includes the downtown entertainment district, where many of the clubs are located and incidents have taken place. “One of the driving reasons for us approving the half-cent sales was to build up our police department and since then, we have funded everything but that.

“We need to do a better job in working to retain officers, hiring officers and help put this to an end.”

Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, who represents Ward 7 on the council, said the city needs to “do what we need to do” to cut down on downtown loitering.

“People are everywhere. We need to enforce the rules that keep people from simply hanging around. You are either in the club or your home,” Crenshaw said.

Selma Mayor George Evans said the department is fully aware of the crowd and loitering problems around downtown clubs and is putting together guidelines to address the larger crowds that visit the clubs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

“I meet with the police department regularly, asking how we are doing and what we need do to do better,” Evans said. “The police know that people need to be in or out, they can’t be in two places at once.”

Evans said he has also talked with officials with the Selma Post Office, where some of the crowds have started gathering and parking.

“After a period of time to give proper notification, anyone who parks in that parking lot could have their car towed,” Evans said.

Selma Chief of Police William T. Riley was not at Thursday’s meeting.