It’s all of three days later, and the shooting of four people on the dance floor at Jim Porter’s Sunday night has taken a back seat in the media to other crimes. But one local bar owner says that making a change in police policy could increase safety at Louisville nightclubs that are becoming more dangerous.
Ward Plauche, co-owner of CityBlock Louisville, has been in the industry since 1972. He says a police policy that prohibits off-duty officers hired by clubs from being stationed inside could and should be changed. Plauche said that had a uniformed officer been in the room at Jim Porter’s, the perpetrator would have thought twice before he started shooting. As it was, he could plan an escaape route without passing an officer.
“The visibility of a uniform is preventive maintenance in a club,” he said. “We can’t hire them to come in ahd have a visible presence.”
As it is, LMPD policy prevents officers hired by clubs from standing inside. So they are visible in parking lots and near entrances, but not inside. When called, police can come inside and restore order and they can come and go as they please. On Sunday, officers came inside Porter’s only after shots were fired.
LMPD spokesman Phil Russell said the policy is designed to prevent bar owners from using officers for duties that should be performed by bouncers or bar personnel.
Plauche said the nightclub scene has changed in recent years, especially in regard to the prevalence of party promoters appealing to an urban crowd. Those parties feature rep and hip-hop music, and more frequently are held at venues like Porter’s and CityBlock. Promoters use sites like MySpace and Facebook to drum up notice, and bring in big crowds.These groups have hosted parties on Sunday nights at Jim Porter’s for several years.
“The urban crowd is an underserved market for nightclubs, so we’re serving the market,” he said. But Plauche said that “aggressive, violent music” makes for a more dangerous crowd. He said he uses metal detectors as a deterrent at CityBlock, though Porter’s doesn’t.
Police still haven’t made an arrest in Sunday night’s shooting at Jim Porter’s, though they are searching for a suspect.