Bar Owner Claims Double Standard from Police

The LMPD policy on what off-duty officers are allowed to do while working at a nightclub is pretty clear. What’s not clear is what the definition of an on-premise operation is and how clubs that hire off-duty security guards may differ from Fourth Street Live.

Here’s the LMPD policy, as stated in the police handbook:

Members are prohibited from engaging in secondary employment as a bouncer, security guard or in any other capacity that may require an officer to invoke police authority in establishments that specialize in nightclub type entertainment or businesses that primarily sell liquor by the drink or package. This does not prohibit secondary employment in parking lots of the aforementioned establishments.

Ward Plauche, operator of the CityBlock complex, says that a double standard exists. He says that police are allowed to patrol inside at Fourth Street Live, which becomes an enclosed establishment no different than his club when it closes off the area with ropes on weekend evenings.

“You walk in and see 12 officers standing around, that’s a deterrent,” he says. “Put those officers in the parking garage and then see what happens.”

Plauche argues that the policy prohibiting the off-duty officers from going inside his establishment, and independent clubs like Phoenix Hill and Jim Porter’s, means that his club doesn’t get the same level of protection that exists at Fourth Street Live. He says last Sunday’s shooting at Jim Porter’s could have been prevented if police were allowed inside.

He says he’s gotten an assurance from Metro Councilman David Tandy that the topic is going to be discussed with police.

Police Visibility an Issue in Nightclub Violence

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.

Keeping the ‘Hood Free of Plasma Centers

Last spring, there was a big story about the efforts of politicians to prevent a national company from spending $500,000 to locate a plasma center just west of the University of Louisville. No one, except the owners of the property, seemed to want the unsavory business of collecting blood to happen in their neighborhood. Some even put it on a level with porn as a threat to neighborhood safety.

You can check our coverage of the issue here, here, and here.

Councilwoman Marianne Butler, whose District 15 includes the area in question, has now effectively made it impossible for plasma center businesses to open in any Metro neighborhood.  Butler pushed for and got passed a change in the Land Development Code that adds plasma centers to the list of business which are required to get a conditional use permit before opening.

After all the hubbub last spring, PlasmaCare dropped its plans to build its center near U of L. Maybe they just weren’t up for the fight with neighborhood activists.  Councilman Tom Owen owns property across the street, where his plans for university housing remain stalled due to difficulty in finding financing. And the owners of the property proposed for the plasma center, heirs of Vern Ferguson, haven’t done anything with the property, to our knowledge.

Don’t expect any backers of plasma centers to apply for a conditional use permit there, though. Even the LMPD was included in groups making public announcements against the idea.

“These changes go a long way in easing the numerous concerns of neighborhoods. Neighborhoods want development that brings positive improvements to the area.  This change in code is a step in that direction,” Butler said.

Look Who’s Still Winning the Popularity Contest

Let’s take a look at what you people are thinking, at least according to a Survey USA poll released last week.

The headline at WHAS-TV was that Mayor Jerry Abramson’s approval rating has hit a new low. But it’s far from being really low. He’s still popular enough to easily win if he were running for re-election, which is an all-but-assured eventuality in 2010.  His LOW level in popularity in the three years they’ve done the poll is now 54 percent.

It’s like criticizing U of L for wining by just 45 points yesterday. Sure, the Cards could have gotten to 50, but what’s the point? More interesting was the poll’s results on issues concerning Abramson’s actions in office.

The public doesn’t have much sympathy for cops in their battle with the Mayor over take-home cars. Six in 10 think police should either not have the cars at all or have the fee they pay for the cars go up.

Furloughing city employees is popular enough, with half of respondants supporting it. But the idea of closing parks is not, with 73 percent saying they don’t want to see that step taken.  And cutting back the hours at libraries is unpopular, with 56 percent resisting.

The public saved its harshest crtique of the Mayor’s action for an issue that gets the most publicity — closing fire stations.  More than 8 in 10 think that’s a step too far for solving the budget problem.

So the poll results say, basically, that the people don’t want fire stations, parks or libraries closed to save money, but they’re OK with jacking up the cost of take-home cars for police and giving employees a few unpaid days off.  Which leads me to think the Mayor is overestimating the negative feedback he’d get if he were to announce layoffs of 10 percent.

It’s easy to explain the Mayor’s popularity numbers. Unlike the other 19 years of his oversight of the city’s budget, he’s been put in the position of telling people things they don’t want to hear. So surveys aren’t going to be kind to him.  But it’s hardly an uprising from the people.

The Mayor’s critics may be getting louder, but they’ve got a long way to go before they dent his popularity.

Bank Robber Shot to Death in Louisville

A man who robbed the Beechmont location of Stock Yards Bank in Louisville was shot to death today just after 12:00 Noon.

It’s 2008. Why do people even attempt to rob banks these days?

This is what happens when you do crazy crap. You get shot – 14 or 15 times – until you’re dead dead dead.

From the C-J:

About noon a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy saw an individual wearing a bandana enter the bank at 4825 South Third Street, Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Robert White said.

When the man left the bank, the deputy confronted him and the man showed a weapon and at least one shot is fired, White said. It was not clear who fired the shot, however, and the suspect fled in a car with an undetermined amount of bank money, driving south on Third Street.
-SNIP-
Sue Griffin, who was visiting relatives on Tenny, said a neighbor called to say they had heard on a police scanner that a Stock Yards Bank branch had been robbed and that Griffin’s relatives should lock their doors.

Shortly after that, she heard gunfire begin. She said she heard 14 shots. Kenny Hite, who was visiting a friend on Tenny, said, “It was wild. I’ve never heard nothing like it before. They told him to put his gun down … and they opened fire.”

Also peep WHAS11’s noon coverage. Effing crazy.