For years, the Montgomery Police Department has asked nightclub owners to hire officers on leave to provide security.
It’s about to change.
A health insurance problem and a lack of volunteer agents led city leaders to explore new options. Montgomery City Council members said Tuesday they plan to write an ordinance to create more stringent security requirements that don’t depend on the police to provide security.
Acting Police Chief Ramona Harris told council members she approved of dropping the use of officers to provide security. Until this summer, owners of clubs that allow alcohol had to hire one agent for every 50 people. But officers signed up for this duty on a voluntary basis, and Harris said sometimes there weren’t enough volunteers. Those who volunteered were not covered by MPD’s health insurance during the shift, which recently led MPD to stop offering the shifts.
âWe’re looking for what’s in everyone’s best interest,â Harris said. “… When we don’t have to and there’s another option, that’s one of the things we want to put on the table.”
Harris said a team of six officers and a supervisor would work overtime to check clubs and other venues to ensure they are complying with safety regulations as part of a larger safety patrol in across town. She said it would prioritize public safety as a whole instead of dedicating people to a specific club.
“I would prefer to have additional officers, if we have to mandate (overtime), for the town of Montgomery and not for specific establishments,” said Harris.
City Councilor Glenn Pruitt said he would prefer the police to sort out the insurance problem and then continue to provide direct security. He proposed a moratorium on opening new clubs in Montgomery until this insurance issue was resolved, and he also proposed increasing the salaries of volunteer officers who work those shifts.
Pruitt said he was opposed to officers in patrol clubs working overtime – instead of club owners paying this fee – and that he preferred to have officers on site at each club rather than a safety car. ” sitting there with yellow lights “.
Council rejected Pruitt’s proposed 7-1 moratorium, with Councilor Brantley Lyons abstaining.
Harris said few problems had been reported at nightclubs across the city in recent months, even though police had stopped working directly on security teams. MPD chief operating officer Jennifer Reaves said owners have communicated more with police in recent months and made an effort to adhere to guidelines.
“We are not trying to opt out of dealing with issues with the clubs,” Harris said. “Now we have given them the means to understand the law, to understand the ordinance, to know what they must have in place … We still want to keep this support role, but a support role for security public vs being directly responsible for club affairs that take place on their property. “
Contact Montgomery Advertiser reporter Brad Harper at [email protected]