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Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans motioned to table the Taleshia Ford Memorial Amendment Act of 2007 today so that the Committee on Public Works and the Environment could continue to revise it.
Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham introduced the bill shortly after 17-year-old Taleshia Ford was killed by a stray bullet at Smarta/Broadway on 9th Street NW in January. The bill, which has been controversial, would prohibit unaccompanied minors under age 18 from hanging out at alcohol-licensed establishments that provide entertainment after 11 p.m. on school nights and after 12 a.m. on weekends or during the summer. Kids could still attend events at alcohol-licensed establishments that provide entertainment if all the alcohol was locked up at the time.
According to Jeff Coudriet, committee clerk for the Committee on Finance and Revenue, Evans “had a variety of concerns” about the bill. “He definitely had a big concern with the prospect of allowing MPD to work [for] establishments again.”
It was a concern Evans shared with police chief Cathy Lanier. On June 1, council members received a letter from Lanier praising Graham’s efforts but raising questions about a provision in the bill that would allow liquor licensees to contract with overtime police officers to patrol their establishments.
“Jack was on the Special Committee on Police Misconduct and Personnel Management in 1998, so he knows this issue,” Coudriet says.
Lanier’s letter is after the jump.
GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT
The Honorable Vincent C Gray Chairman Council of the District of Columbia 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 504 Washington, D.C. 20004
Dear Chairman Gray:
I commend Councilmember Graham for leading the effort to find ways to help make our club zones safer, especially for young people. Bill 17-88, “Taleshia Ford Memorial Amendment Act of 2007 is an important step toward that goal This year’s fatal shooting of Taleshia Ford inside the Smarta/Broadway Club was a horrible tragedy—-for Taleshia’s family, for her classmates and school community, and for the community at large. That is why it is incumbent upon those of us in government and in the community to respond decisively and effectively to this situation, so that we can dramatically reduce the chances of such a tragedy ever happening again.
As you know, one of my top strategies for reducing crime and the fear of crime in the city is anticipating crime and calls for service to help facilitate early adjustments to staff and resource deployment. Therefore part of my summer strategy is to increase foot patrols during peak hours. This will help to ensure a safe environment for patrons, as well as for pedestrians and drivers passing through these areas.
Although I support this bill generally, I do have reservations about the provision allowing MPD members to work for ABC licensees. In October 1998, members of this Council led the Special Committee on Police Misconduct & Personnel Management—-a significant public / private partnership—-in studying the issue of officers working off-duty for ABC licensed establishments. The Special Committee found that it is a conflict of interest for officers to work for ABC establishments. The Council then passed legislation prohibiting such off-duty employment for any commercial establishment, the primary purpose of which is the sale of alcoholic beverages. This is consistent with police policy in other jurisdictions. I have not seen any evidence that this law is less relevant today.
I look forward to continuing to work with the Council to resolve these issues so that we can all have a safe summer.
Should you have any additional questions or concerns regarding this matter, please contact me on (202) 727-421S,
Cathy Lanier Chief of Police