The City Council’s Special Committee on Public Safety tonight introduced amendments to a series of nightlife ordinances after a public hearing on the matters.
“Our policy team in conjunction with the Board of Licenses staff and board have met with stakeholders that include the Hospitality Association, restaurant, bar and nightclub owners to hear their concerns over a series of ordinances and resolutions introduced by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) late last year,” stated Councilman and Chairman of the City Councils’s Special Committee on Public Safety James Taylor (Ward 8). “My committee heard from several nightlife owners and operators tonight, and I feel that these amendments will address many of their shared concerns.”
The proposed ordinance around video surveillance will be amended to now require only BX-Licensees to have video surveillance, as opposed to all B Licensees as initially introduced. The areas that require surveillance will be limited to entrances, exits, and at points of sale. People behave differently when they are being monitored. Often times, cameras preempt most incidents of violence before they begin. This measure will also help public safety officials in their investigations of crimes. This was true this past summer when video surveillance led to the arrest of a shooting suspect at a West End nightclub. Further, the Urban Institute, a non-profit think-tank that researches societal issues, has noted that research has shown that surveillance cameras were linked to reduced crime rates in both Chicago and Baltimore. Video surveillance is an important missing piece in our nightlife public safety approach.
Another change introduced tonight is an amendment to the definition of a “nightclub” in the Zoning Ordinance. This amendment introduces more narrowly tailored factors for a Zoning Officer to consider- such as strobe and laser lighting, stages or platforms for DJs, use of promoters- when designating an establishment a nightclub. Having a codified mechanism, that provides Zoning officers reasonable discretion to classify an establishment a nightclub will help curb the problem of unlawful nightclubs disguised as bars or restaurants operating in areas not zoned for nightclubs such as on Federal Hill.
Furthermore, in zones where nightclubs are permitted, these establishments will be made to get a nightclub license (N-License). This N-License comes with more restrictions and more accountability, such as rules around readmittance, a limit on the number of alcoholic drinks one person can purchase in a single transaction, a requirement of certified security personnel, among other responsibilities as required by N-License holders.
Other changes introduced tonight include a more graduated scale of penalties for license violations.
City Council President Sabina Matos stated, “These amendments were brought forward after a thorough dialogue with nightlife business owners and public safety stakeholders. Our intention was always to prioritize public safety while celebrating and promoting our nightlife establishments that play by the rules. For far too long, our city has enabled a nightlife culture where some owners find it profitable to operate a business model that skirts local and state laws. These sweeping measures help shift this paradigm. When initially proposed, our nightlife legislation was scrutinized by some bar and restaurant owners as too broad. So we carefully listened to their concerns, heeded their suggestions and insight, and reflected those changes in the amendments introduced today. I want to thank the food and beverage community for their time, passion, and input.”
“Public safety has always been my number one concern for visitors and residents alike,” stated Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia (Ward 6). “I believe that our nighttime economy is vital to the City, but I also want to ensure public safety whenever we can, and these amendments do that.”
Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4) today was on site where work is continuing on the Hawkins Street Bridge Restoration Project. The demolition phase has begun.
“The contractor has begun the demolition phase of the Hawkins Street Bridge restoration project,” stated Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. “This process is going to take time, but it’s great to see momentum. I want to thank the City and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for keeping this project moving.”
Hawkins Street Bridge was closed to traffic in October of 2017 after the Rhode Island Department of Transportation found significant deterioration on several of the support beams. Narducci continued, “Today marks another step closer to restoring this bridge so that the community is no longer divided.”
As work progresses Senior Deputy Majority Leader Narducci will provide updates on the status of the project.
Over the past several weeks there have been several vehicular break-ins in and around the North End. Over the past week I have reached out to constituents via social media and email with helpful tips, and asking them to share any video surveillance they may have captured.
I am happy to report that last night the Providence Police Department apprehended two suspects on Edgeworth Avenue. They were caught with the help of a homeowner’s surveillance camera, and their awareness and willingness to call the Police. The Providence Police Department acted swiftly and was able to apprehend the suspects after a short foot pursuit.
These individuals also had warrants out for their arrest for allegedly committing similar crimes in Pawtucket. I want to thank the Providence Police Department for the dedication to keeping our neighborhoods safe, and for their efforts in capturing these suspects.
We still need to be vigilant and remember to lock our car doors, park in a well-lit area, keep our windows closed, and make sure that any valuables left in the car are hidden out of sight.
Nicholas J. Narducci Jr., Senior Deputy Majority Leader
Providence City Council
Councilman – Ward 4
Today the Board of Contract and Supply approved a contract to demolish the property located at 60 Ernest Street. The building was home to the City’s old VIN Station and housed several other departments within the Department of Public Works. After several complaints from employees, and after seeing the state of the building for myself, I along with the Chairman of the Council’s Special Committee on Public Safety, Councilman James E. Taylor, called for the City to remove all employees from that building and to relocate the VIN station to the Public Safety Complex. We also called for the building to be demolished, and that the City invest in a new building for the Department of Public Works. Demolition will begin once all necessary permits are in place in the next several weeks. Although a new building is a ways off – I am proud of the work my colleagues and I did to ensure the safety for some of our City’s employees who worked out of this building which had asbestos and a serious rodent issue, all employees were relocated to safer and cleaner working conditions. Michael Correia, President Pro Tempore Providence City Council Councilman – Ward 6
Today, I read on social media that on Thursday, January 2, a school bus carrying approximately 50 students were bystanders to an incident involving two vehicles that allegedly traded between 1 and 5 gunshots. Thankfully these young students were unharmed, and the driver instructed them to get down. However, it has been reported on social media that once it was dispatched to the First Student Dispatch Center it was allegedly not reported to the Providence Police Department. It is my sincere hope that the Providence School Department is offering counseling services to the young children onboard the bus at the time of the incident, and that First Student is taking responsibility for allegedly failing to notify the police immediately.
As a Councilman, my first priority is to the residents of Providence, and as the Vice-Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Safety, I take these incidents very seriously and will be calling for an investigation into this matter.
A member of the Providence Police Department has confirmed this incident, but that there was no evidence of gunshots, and they only have witness statements. If you know anything about this incident I urge you to call the Providence Police Department at 401-272-1111.