downtownexpress.com

Volume 19 • Issue 15 | August 25 - 31, 2006

Clubs without proper security will face closure under new law

Mayor Bloomberg last week signed the “Bouncer Bill” into law, arming the city with new tools to close nightlife venues that do not follow state laws on licensing security personnel.

The law, which goes into effect in December, was prompted by several cases this year in which unlicensed or improperly licensed club and bar bouncers were involved in homicide cases.

At the Aug. 23 bill signing in City Hall, Joseph Tacopina, attorney for the family of Imette St. Guillen, who was murdered in February after leaving The Falls, a Soho bar, said the death of the John Jay College graduate student might have been avoided if the law had been in place then. Darryl Littlejohn, an unlicensed bouncer at The Falls, is charged with her murder.

State law now requires all security employees to be licensed and to have no felony convictions; it empowers the state to impose sanctions against violators.

The new city law establishes new categories for security guards in eating and drinking premises and in cabarets. It allows the city to prosecute violations and begin the process of closing those establishments.

New additions to the Nuisance Abatement Law and to the city cabaret regulations will require the city to proceed against clubs whose bouncers are unlicensed, have unlicensed weapons or have not had a required background check.

“It’s true it singles out bars and cabarets,” said Robert Bookman, attorney for the New York Nightlife Association, which supports the law. “But it clarifies the definition of security personnel and that’s a good thing. Owners who stand at the door are not security and neither are hostesses who check V.I.P. lists.”

On Aug. 24, Queens Councilmember Melinda Katz said she was drafting legislation that would outlaw the practice of some clubs to require patrons to buy two or more bottles of liquor or wine to reserve a table.

Katz’s staff found several clubs that followed the practice, including The Guest House in West Chelsea, where Jennifer Moore, an 18-year-old New Jersey woman was partying last month before she was picked up intoxicated on the West Side Highway by a man who is now charged with murdering her.



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