Making Nightlife Safer

Music & Politics

Volume CVI, No. 10October, 2006

Heather Beaudoin

After the recent murders in an East Village bar and around a Chelsea nightclub, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a series of proposals to provide an extra level of security for nightlife patrons and workers.

Speaker Quinn was joined by several of her colleagues as she articulated a three-point plan to address safety and security concerns throughout the city. The plan calls for local enforcement of State Liquor Authority regulations, a packet of legislative proposals that will strengthen club security, and a nightlife safety summit in the fall to bring key players together to collaboratively address improving nightclub safety.


The speaker called for an overhaul of State Liquor Authority Operations in New York City by proposing a local enforcement unit that will have the power to more expeditiously revoke or suspend liquor licenses, levy fines for violations, and work collaboratively with local law enforcement. The special unit would help the city effectively police its bars and clubs by itself taking action to revoke or suspend liquor licenses. The speaker proposed financing this unit through a surcharge on all liquor licenses issued in New York City.


The council planned to initiate several legislative measures in September to address nightclub safety.

These include:

  • Requiring ID verification scanners at club entrances. The scanners, able to detect fake ID’s, would be an effective step in preventing underage patrons from gaining entry to nightclubs;
  • Installing security cameras at club entrances and exits to reduce crime in and around clubs, as well as to address quality of life concerns;
  • Strengthening training for cabaret employees. Improved education and awareness on club safety and the responsibilities of club employees to maintain a safe environment in the club and on the streets;
  • Requiring clubs with serious or repeat violations such as unlicensed security guards or underage drinking to hire independent monitors at their own expense. Monitors, who would have to be on an approved NYPD list, would work with the Police Department to improve club safety.


In addition, Speaker Quinn proposed a nightlife safety summit to bring together all the key players in ensuring club safety to discuss and implement solutions to our club safety issues. The summit, which was planned to take place in September, was to call upon club owners, law enforcement, local communities and elected officials to come to the table with a plan to address chronic problems such as underage drinking, security in and around clubs, and incidents of violence inside and outside of the clubs. The New York Police Department, Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator and the Nightlife Association have already agreed to participate.


The speaker’s plan looks to the future. For the present, the City Council has passed Intro 366-A, otherwise known as the Bouncer Bill, that will allow various city agencies to enhance nightlife safety by ensuring that clubs hire only licensed security personnel and that they otherwise comply with state law regarding security guards. The bill would deem establishments that do not comply with its provisions as public nuisances and allow the city to close them down. The bill would also condition public assembly permits and cabaret licenses on compliance with state law. This would allow for a greater number of city agencies to enforce the law.

“New York City’s clubs exist very close to residents and because of that, we must make sure there are strong laws on the books so that the bad apples can be weeded out. Clubs in our city that are operating well and that are adding to our economy should be allowed to continue, but the negligent operators need to be shut down,” said Speaker Quinn.