July 19, 2012 by Sarah M
//By Jeremy Zoss//
The late-night weekend crime that plague’s downtown Warehouse District is being targeted with new regulatory changes that will give the city new power to mandate changes at problem clubs. The new regulations will be introduced by the City Council tomorrow and were previewed today at joint press conference by Mayor R.T. Rybak, 1st Precinct Inspector Eddie Frizell and members of the Minneapolis City Council.
“Downtown Minneapolis has come a long way as a nightspot,” said Rybak. “We’re happy about that. This is a place that welcomes visitors. But it’s also a place where visitors need to feel safe.”
During the press conference, Rybak stated that 80 percent of downtown crime occurs late at night on Saturday and Sunday nights, with Sundays typically the worse of the two. Several Warehouse District clubs hold events for patrons under age 21 on Sunday nights. The City has met with what Councilmember Don Samuels described as a “small cohort” of owners who run problem clubs. Those clubs, which were not named, have voluntarily agreed to stop hosting under 21 events on Sundays and to use “enhanced wristband” systems. The clubs also agreed to employ uniformed security and off-duty police officers and to conduct background checks on all staff members.
While these agreements are voluntary, the new city ordinances will give city regulators the power to put conditions on both liquor licenses and non-liquor establishments. Under the new ordinances, a problem establishment could be forced to hold only 21 and up events or could have its business hours shortened. Under current rules, the City and a business owner must reach an agreement over any proposed changes.
“This will still stop either voluntarily or through enforcement involuntary,” said Samuels. “But it will not continue as it is.”