OUR OPINION: Strict Tupelo club ordinance needed to curb criminality

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo’s City Council, after more than a year of discussion and months of detailed development, is expected tonight to consider and adopt a new nightclub and nightclub promoter ordinance.
It’s a response to incidents of criminality, including fights, that have, in some instances, spilled into other venues after hours.
The complex and comprehensive proposed ordinance would require more from club owners in terms of patron control, especially clubs with a history of incidents requiring police action. It would give the city wider latitude to respond, through the police department, by shutting down operations.
The ordinance also would establish an oversight committee to deal with club issues, a strong action to keep violations and trouble in high profile.
The ordinance, in plain language, is necessary because the council has found “some nightclubs within the City contribute to littering, public intoxication, noise, disorderly conduct, assaults and similar problems connected with routine congregation of persons around such nightclubs, especially those nightclubs that are managed without adequate attention to these problems …”
The council and administration aren’t opposed to nightclubs. The interest is in lawful behavior in the clubs, outside the clubs and especially rigorous control by owners of the clubs.
Club entertainment in Tupelo has evolved into a major entertainment attraction.
What’s not tolerable is criminal misbehavior, including what Mayor Jack Reed Jr. has called “pop-up” clubs that are almost impromptu businesses that may exist for only a day or a night. Those would be prevented by stricter licensing and fire safety standards.
Tupelo, of course, is not alone among cities of all sizes where tougher ordinances have been adopted to rein in club-based excesses.
The point is not to stop a good time but to prevent criminal behavior that is an issue of public safety.
Tupelo Police Chief Tony Carleton said months ago 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. That proposal is reasonable, and it makes negative action avoidable by simply obeying the law.
Regardless of where misbehavior and criminality happen, Tupelo needs the legal ammunition to routinely intervene and stop it.