At our last legislative meeting, I introduced a bill called the “Reimbursable Detail Expansion and Promoter Regulation Act of 2011.” This bill is designed to bring to the forefront of the Council’s legislative agenda the issue of violence associated with certain late night entertainment venues, particularly when so-called “promoters” are involved.
The bill I introduced would direct the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration to create regulations covering promoters, which has been the subject of discussion even prior to recent events. Promoters don’t have accountability to the government or the community the way an ABRA license-holder does, and creating a licensing process for them will help with this problem. My bill creates a framework for defining promoters, looking at items such as fee-sharing arrangements based on admission head counts, for example, while creating reasonable exemptions for performers and off-premises ticket sellers like Ticketmaster.
The other substantive section of the bill would impact participation in the reimbursable detail program, which provides for additional Metropolitan Police Department officers on the streets, with costs being shared by bars and the city. The intent of my bill is to shift the presumption to require certain establishments to pay for adequate security unless they apply for and are granted an exemption. If, for example, an establishment is a restaurant by day but then has a second life as a kind of club a couple of nights a month, then that establishment would have to participate in the reimbursable detail program on entertainment nights unless ABRA grants them an exemption. On nights where promoters are involved, the extra security would always be required.
The introduction of this bill starts a conversation on the issue, and there will be an opportunity for residents and stakeholders to share views for how to refine the proposal going forward. I have heard a number of good ideas already, such as increasing the role of advisory neighborhood commissions in the process or involving the commander of the relevant police district in these decisions. There may also be a way to incorporate “special police” officers into the security requirements, who are not members of MPD but are licensed by MPD. In contrast with MPD reimbursable detail officers who patrol the streets outside identified establishments, “special police” officers work inside an establishment and have arrest authority on the premises.
I look forward to other ideas being presented during the hearing process. I was joined by four of my colleagues in the introduction of my bill, Councilmembers Michael Brown, Phil Mendelson, Muriel Bowser and Marion Barry, which I hope demonstrates the support necessary to ensure that the relevant committee chair, Councilmember Jim Graham, quickly schedules a hearing to move the bill forward.