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?
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