Last week I suggested that new Mayor Bill de Blasio appoint a nightlife Czar to handle the multi-billion dollar nightlife industry. The objective was to have a city office that helps clubs, bars and other licensed premises integrate with residents and business interests. The film industry, with far less tax and economic potential, has such an office that helps with permitting and community impact. Another idea debunked under the Mayor Bloomberg/Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s regime is the “paid detail unit” use for nightclubs. The paid Detail Unit are uniformed, armed police officers that can basically be rented for use by private institutions and individuals.
If you go into a bank on Broadway you might see such a cop instead of a security guard. The rate is about $37 an hour. This unit became controversial when officers paid for by banks were used to disrupt anti bank protesters during the Occupy Wall Street protests. The Paid Detail Officers are not available at this time for hire in nightclubs. Siting possible corruption from the nightlife sector, police officers are not allowed to work at clubs. This seems hypocritical with corruption seemingly more plausible doing the handiwork of corporate/banking giants. Paid Detail Units protect the stock exchanges, Wall Street corporations and the power elite. In 2011 the unit collected 11.8 million bucks. The site Crooks and Liars cited a police officer comment:
“Regarding the officer working for, and being paid by, some of the richest people and organizations in the City, if not the world, enforcing the mandates of the private employer, and in effect, allowing the officer to become the Praetorian Guard of the elite of the City. And now corruption is no longer a problem. Who are they kidding?”
Nightclubs and local residents are often at odds. The main culprit is noise. Certainly a police officer paid for by a club could regulate the noise levels from DJ music. The officer could quiet honking cabs and loud talking drunks and smokers. The officer would be a deterrent to thieves and brawlers. He would be a person a resident could speak to about a particular issue. He would be an armed and trained deterrent to terrorists who have targeted clubs globally. Clubs would gladly pay the costs. The cop would mean less of a threat of robbery and other security issues, and less of a bonded security payroll. He or she might help bridge gaps between clubs and residents. The $9 billion industry is a necessity for our increasingly tourist-based economy. It is time the Mayor protects this industry and brings fair play into the equation. At the present time regulation by NYPD is inconsistent at best and illegal if not immoral at worst. Most clubs establish good relations with their local precinct but if one looks at the persecution of Pacha – which won at its day in court over NYPD – or the current persecution of Greenhouse/WIP, the urgency of fair play is underscored. Corruption is a lame excuse. Let’s hope new Police Commissioner William Bratton considers making the Paid Detail Unit available to the nightlife industry.
On another note, I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of retired Detective Chris Strucker from complications of lung damage he suffered while working at the World Trade Center ruins following the 9/11 attacks. The resulting cancer took our friend on January 3rd. Chris was a great cop and a familiar face to the industry. He was a fair and honest broker, loved and respected. His funeral and wake info:
This Thursday Jan 9th 6-9 p.m. or Friday Jan 10th 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at William M. Gagan Funeral Home, 1525 County Road 7, Pine Bush, NY
Church of the Savior, 22 Holland Avenue Pine Bush NY, Saturday 10 a.m.