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November 11, 2008

City police to stop moonlighting

In a couple weeks, Baltimore city clubs will no longer be able to hire city police officers to work security outside their establishments.

You ever walked up to a bar or club -- say, Power Plant Live or Nobles -- and seen uniformed police officers standing watch outside? That's what I'm talking about.

The way it works is, bar/club owners pay overtime rates to have police officers stand guard outside. They say it deters violent crime -- especially when rowdy patrons spill out onto the streets at closing time.

But the police department said the program raises too many liabilities and conflicts of interest, and decided to end it. Cops reporter Justin Fenton and I teamed up to write a story about this issue. The piece ran on the front page of Saturday's paper. Here is a link.

As you can imagine, the bar owners are none-too-pleased with the police department's decision ...

Neither is the police union. Turns out, city police officers make a good chunk of change by working overtime outside clubs. And since the city is currently cracking down on overtime pay, they're going to be making significantly less money.

Since I helped write a non-biased news piece about this issue, it's not right for me to take sides. Thankfully, Sun crime writer Peter Hermann weighed in on this topic on his blog, Baltimore Crime Beat. He thinks ending the program is a necessary and prudent move, and he has some interesting insights.

Head over to his blog and weigh in on what you think is the right move.

(Photo by Monica Lopossay/Sun photographer)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 12:47 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bars & Clubs
        

Comments

BAD IDEA!!!
Just look at recent stories about the violence that takes place outside of certain venues- like the shooting @ the Belvedere!
If for no other reason than allowing officers to make up for the overtime that the city cant - or chooses not to- pay them, they should be allowed to make ends meet through other, legitimate forms of income related to their profession.
Bad Move!!!

Might be the only time I have ever agreed with Mather, j/k. Police officers should be able to make some easy extra money on the side. Bar owners pay them a lot of money to help with security.

Bars have insurance that should cover any liability that might happen if there is an altercation outside the bar.

The city has cut overtime from police officers, that's a shame.

Disallowing uniformed police officers to moonlight at bars in high traffic areas is a poorly thought piece of legislation. And, this couldn't come at a worse time for the city and the department.

Not only does a uniformed presence lower the risk of violent crime, the city will undoubtedly see a spike in violent crime as the holidays near and the country's economic situation doesn't improve.

Notwithstanding the above, these officers, knowingly or not, do create a bridge between the department and business operators.

Most likely this decision will be revisited and revised in the coming months.

Forget the cat on the beer box. I want a caption for this picture! That sun photographer will shoot my wedding.

This will likely prove to be a huge mistake for the city, as the nightclubs where police work are generally safe places. Removing the police will put the door staffs at a severe disadvantage when attempting to keep out disorderly and dangerous patrons.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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