OUR OPINION: Nightlife requires effective controls

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo City Council’s consideration of a new nightclub ordinance that cracks down on violations of laws governing public behavior, decency and on-premises fighting places the city in a growing group of cities of varying sizes nationwide getting tough on wild and unrestrained night life, especially involving chronic business violators.
Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton said Tuesday in a City Council work session that a draft ordinance would propose tightly regulating security, capacity, hours of operation and alcohol sales – with an extra push of suspending operating licenses after a certain number of police calls or complaints to the establishment within a set period of time.
In the process, the council probably would not continue deliberations on a “brown bag” ban because it is viewed by some as a punitive measure for clubs with good records.
In Winston-Salem, N.C., the nightclub ordinance has in it a violence reduction program that draws club management and employees into compliance with behavioral standards through training with the police department. The goal is to reduce incidents and encourage clubs to proactively stop disturbances and all kinds of behavior violations on premises.
Tupelo’s night club problems have included lack of oversight, fights, nudity and – in the case of a Sept. 29 incident at Rooster Cats on McCullough Boulevard – all three, according to a Tupelo Police Department incident report.
Three people were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, contempt of court and a warrant.
Separate ordinances involving public nuisance, gatherings called “flash mobs” and adult entertainment might be needed as official discussions move forward, city spokeswoman Anna Wyatt said Wednesday, in response to questions from the Daily Journal.
As noted in earlier reporting, nightclub revelers sometimes move their party after hours to some West Main Street shopping centers’ parking lots.
Regardless of where misbehavior and criminality happens, Tupelo needs the legal ammunition to routinely intervene and stop it.
Nightclubs are a profitable fact of life in Tupelo’s entertainment sector, and their presence is likely to grow as Tupelo expands as the regional center of Northeast Mississippi.
Effective control is the key in ensuring that their presence doesn’t detract from the city’s quality of life.