City council cracks down on nightlife crime

Wednesday, August 13th 2008, 10:51 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY - City leaders in Oklahoma City are considering different approaches to the increasing amount of crime and violent taking place at area nightclubs and bars.

The city council announced Tuesday it will vote on a set of new rules that will target owners and managers of clubs.

Two people were fatally shot outside Club Zax earlier in the year, which prompted the city to demand more responsibility of club owners.

City Councilman Skip Kelly spoke out after the death of a 19-year-old man at the club. Kelly called for a change in the city's nightlife.

NEWS 9 legal analysts Irven Box said the council is on the right track.

"They have the right to shut things down that affect the health and welfare of the citizens of this city," Box said.

Kelly said the new rules intend to force bar and club owners to take more responsibility in the actions of their patrons.

"It's to make some rules that say, ‘If this happens and this happens, continuously as far as violence, then we have the right to come in, give you a notice and if it isn't fixed, then we have a right to close you down,'" Kelly said.

Chad Bleakley, owner of VZD's on Western, said he doesn't agree with the purposed set of new rules. His bar has little to no problems, but he believes it's a bad idea for the city to attempt to target owners and managers, instead of the criminals behind the crimes.

Bleakley said the rules unfairly target the bar and club industry.

"You can look at the convenience store on the corner and look at all the tragedies that have happened there," Bleakley said.

The exact list of purposed new rules for club owners have not been released, but the council will vote on the issue August 26.

The Oklahoma City Police Department reported its officers responded to over 700 calls to six different metro clubs in 2007.