Ferguson Says Legislators Will Look For Alternatives For Owners To Pay For Dedicated Police Deployment On ‘The Block’ – CBS Baltimore

BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson on Friday said lawmakers would look for alternatives to increase security on “The Block,” a collection of downtown strip clubs and adult shops. city, in addition to the business owners have to pay for the deployment of dedicated police.

“[T]The extent of the Baltimore Police Department’s Central District deployment is a pressing concern for other neighborhoods that rely on similar resources,” he said Friday night. “Therefore, before concluding the legislative session, we will go through the areas of agreement and continue to seek ways for the State and the City to provide the Baltimore City Center Partnership with the necessary resources. to enhance security in the Central Business District.”

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Last week, lawmakers behind a proposal to close clubs on “The Block” by 10 p.m. said “the vast majority of clubs” had agreed to consistent use of security cameras and sharing. footage, pay for dedicated police deployments, and develop security plans.

Those plans would have to be approved by the Baltimore City Liquor Licensing Commission and the Baltimore Police Department.

But after a meeting earlier this week, Thiru Vignarajah, a former deputy attorney general and political candidate representing several businesses on “The Block,” told reporters There was disagreement over implementation.

The owners were fine providing camera footage to the police and asking the doorkeeper to use a metal-detecting wand on customers, but they objected to spending $100,000 on additional staff. added, “when the police are there not really doing anything,” Vignarajah said.

“I think that’s where the conversation breaks down a bit,” he said.

The two sides are scheduled to meet again on Friday night.

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Frank D. Boston, III, the attorney representing the Hustler Club, said about half of “The Block” licensees were involved in negotiations with Ferguson.

In January, the president of the senate introduced Senate Bill 222this would require businesses across 400 E. Baltimore neighborhoods with a Class A or Class BD-7 liquor license, or adult entertainment license, to close by 10 p.m. to the north, Water Street to the south, Holliday and Commerce Streets to the west, and Gay Street to the east.

A group consisting of 46th District Dels. Luke Clippinger, Robbyn Lewis, and Brooke Lierman, and City Councilmen Eric Costello support the initiative.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said at the time, in 2021, there were 831 calls to service “The Block” and the surrounding area, including eight shootings with 11 victims, 15 incidents robbery, 17 serious assaults and one suspicious death.

Crime on the streets prompted the BPD’s Central District to deploy additional officers to the area, “stretching critical resources to the breaking point,” the union said in a joint statement. Lawmakers said they have repeatedly raised concerns about security in the area but the owners have yet to make changes.

The owners objected to the bill, saying a 10pm closing time would put them out of business.

Many club owners and management have told the WJZ city and state leaders have wanted to close the club for a while.

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“We want the city of Baltimore to be safe, but they want to bully us. They want to support us strongly,” said Pussycat club owner Bill Wantland on February 7. “I will tell them anything they need. What do you want? I will tell you. Look at my camera. Whatever you want. We’ll help you. ”

https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2022/02/25/ferguson-says-lawmakers-will-seek-alternatives-to-dedicated-police-deployment-on-the-block/ Ferguson Says Legislators Will Look For Alternatives For Owners To Pay For Dedicated Police Deployment On ‘The Block’ – CBS Baltimore

Jake Nichol

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