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January 9, 2011

Councilman William H. Cole IV: law enforcement will have to rethink downtown safety after Select Lounge

Violence at downtown night clubs and lounges, including the Velvet Rope, Suite Ultralounge, and Club Choices, has been a problem for years.

It continued Sunday with a fatal shooting at the West side's Select Lounge.

Though city councilman William H. Cole IV defended the city's efforts to improve security over the years, he also said the shooting will force law enforcement and city officials to again rethink security strategies for night clubs.

"We're going to have to take a very serious look at these clubs to make sure police have resources they need and the clubs are contributing to keep their facilities safe," he said.

For tomorrow's paper, I spoke with Cole and Liquor Board chairman Stephan Fogleman about the shooting, and compiled some recent incidents of violence at the city's clubs and lounge. That story can be found here.  

In the past, Cole said, the city responded to violent incidents at downtown night clubs with padlocking, using the liquor board's enforcement arm, and demanding clubs improved their security. Police also increased security at closing times, when most problems arose, he added.

He argued the combined efforts had dampened violence problems, but that some clubs were still not on board.

"It depends on the clubs and it depends on the night," he said. "Some of them do a very good job with private security."

He said the shooting, at least, will make everyone reconsider the best way to secure nightlife spots.

"This will spark another conversation about safety and security in the downtown clubs and how well they staff their own private security," he said.

Business in the area is dependent on better security, he said. 

"I don't know if [the shooting] is going to have an effect on the nightlife business downtown," he said. "Our responsibility is to make sure these clubs are operating safely, and if that happens, the crowds will come."

Photo: Select Lounge cordoned off by police tape (Crime Beat blog)

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Posted by Erik Maza at 7:59 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


didn't they just put a new councilman in office that had charges for firing a gun amid a group of poll workers?

maybe we should padlock city hall!

Cole seems to be one of the few good ones in city hall. Sam with Fogleman, they actually get it.

Then again, I guess all of these shootings are more important than Jack Young goes to Federal Hill and gets upset with kids urinating in the streets.

club owners get greedy with their firecodes, I, personally want to go to a bar/club where people are, but I don't want to go to a place that is overcrowded. That's when the pushing and shoving starts.

Clubs should be able to hire off duty police officers to help out with security. I am not sure if they are still allowed.

They need to look at each case on an individual basis instead of convicting all bars and clubs.

Forget about inside the clubs.... everyone can avoid the places with a bad rep, if they want. The shootings are going on outside in the streets! It's enough to make anyone rethink going out at all. You might happen to be on your way home from anywhere else and get caught in the crossfire. This is just getting crazy.

hey remember when off-duty cops used to be allowed to moonlight as private security for these places for extra dough and the powers that be forced them to stop? gee...

I think we're over-reacting and losing sight here- a cop shot a cop and some cops shot 3 other people- where is the clubs involvement???

The clubs involvement has to do with the way they addressed the fights that happen inside! The proffessionalism of the security working the club and what They did to difuse the issue if any at all! It is the responsibility of the club security to clear out crowds and be aware of potential issues with fights in the club! They could of aided police in crowd control in the parking lot! then you dont have an officer by himself being attacked. It all comes down to who runs security and their experience with these matters. Police and Security should have been working together to clear out THE CLUBS CROWD!

@Anonymous1- I got to be honest twith you,even though I don't know all the facts, it doesn't seem like this issue lies with the club as much as it does with the police.

Incidents do happen unfortunately and we weren't there but there were 41 rounds shot that night.

Once again, it seems like the off-duty officer was trying to diffuse the situation and unfortunately things got out of hand.

I do see both sides of this case and it is an unfortunate situation, but the club shouldn't be the thing that everybody focuses on.

I agree, if I kick 2 people out of my house and they kill each other- how am I associated? I stopped them from endangering the people in my house

@Tif- this city doesn't get it. They don't see the big picture. Like you said before there are shooting and killings at projects all the time, I don't see City Hall padlocking them. However, I was happy when they imploded the projects over near Little Italy years ago.

They will blame the bars for lack of security. What about blaming the city for lack of police. I know when I go to New York, I feel extremely safe.

This friggin city is more worried about the kids pissing on the streets than the kids selling heroin 4 blocks away.

When I moved to Seton Hill the day I closed on my house got the keys,on the way to the house a guy got shot like 10 times in Orchard Mews. The police told my wife what areas had "activity" and where to stay away from. OK- we stay away- you stay- it seems so simple!

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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 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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