ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – The St. Petersburg City Council will look at a proposed ordinance that would require clubs to hire off-duty police officers to offset the city’s rising cost of security.
Mayor Bill Foster said that the city will carry its load of the costs, but that it is not capable of carrying all of it.
On Thursday the City Council will discuss the proposed ordinance, which would affect bars and clubs in downtown St. Pete and around Tropicana Field.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the council will be presented with several options. One is to charge an across-the-board security fee to all establishments. Another is to create a ‘midnight permit’ that bars and clubs would have to acquire in order to serve alocohol after 12 a.m. Establishments that can hold more than 200 people would be required to hire a minimum of two off-duty officers during special events, Fridays and Saturdays. Bars with a capacity less than 200 won’t have to pay for security unless there are more than three incidents every six months that require officers.
If an establishment violates the midnight permit, officials could force the business to shut down and owners may face arrest.
The city became concerned with rising security costs after club closing times were set at 3 a.m. Scene Premium Night Club, located at 211 Third St. South, highlights the issue as one of downtown’s biggest night clubs. It can hold over 1,000 people. Police complained that the owner, Richard Fabrizi, was not hiring security officers.
People coming in the club were not being searched and marijuana could be smelled inside. In early February, a gun was fired in the club around 2 a.m. Two men were sent to the hospital after suffering gunshot wounds.
Fabrizi said he didn’t know he had to request officers and thought the city provided them. He said he is in favor of a flat security fee for all establishments, regardless of their size.