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Don't Force Bars to Pay for Off Duty Police

Sharing the burden of keeping downtown safe, is not making public safety job No. 1 as the Mayor promised, it is shirking the responsibility for protecting the public.

On the surface the city's efforts to make downtown bars pay for security seems logical and practical.

But, consider this, city council, urged on by the Chamber of Commerce, has cultivated this downtown environment.

City council, led on by Jim Kennedy's insistent whining about all that money driving to Tampa, is now stuck with a monster they created.

I was never in favor of keeping the bars open until 3 a.m. and I am still not, but starting to write ordinances that require them to hire off duty police officers is just way over the top.

Just how effective is the Police Department going to be if a significant number of officers are working "off duty" to cover the downtown bars until 3 a.m.? How many hours can an officer work before his/her performance suffers?

Now that's an officer safety question!

This kind of governing creates far to many opportunities for corruption and favoritism.

Sharing the burden of keeping downtown safe, is not making public safety job No. 1 as the Mayor promised, it is shirking the responsibility for protecting the public.

If St. Pete wants this kind of downtown, then the city simply needs to pay their part of the cost. Let's hire enough police officers to do the job right, and if the budget needs to be cut to pay for them then let's start the cuts in the district where the bars are located.

If not, close the bars down at midnight or 1 a.m. and call it good.

The people who invested their money, to build these businesses, expected they would have police protection just the same as any other business in St. Petersburg. Who in their right mind would want to open a business in St. Pete if their success leads to a government shake down for protection? 

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net

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Scott Bitterli March 07, 2012 at 08:20 PM
Doc, I enjoy your perspective on a lot of local subjects, but this is not one of them. Your constant reference to "this kind of downtown" is weak and ignorant. I am not a part of the club crowd or ultra loungers, and I do see serious issues arising along with the increased nightlife in downtown. But to insist on closing "the bars at midnight or 1 a.m." is hasty and, not to be disrespectful, you sound like an old coot. Downtown St. Pete is alive and well, and I am proud of that. The club owners should be held responsible for providing a safe and respectable establishment. The city also need to do there part, with providing safe and respectable law enforcement. Both parties have been slow to catch up.
Doc Webb's Bay Post March 07, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Scott, thanks for the comment. You're right. Midnight or 1:00AM is a bit draconian. There was no significant Police coverage problem with a 2:00AM closing. Going back to 2:00AM would likely ease the Police coverage problem considerably. It would not, however, change the environment that is quickly developing downtown. I agree both sides of this problem need to do their part. For the record, I am an old coot, but I have been known to hoist a few between 1:00AM and 2:00AM, I just don't like to do it to the sound of gunfire.

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