Friday, October 1, 2010

Police work to shut down dangerous downtown night club

You may have heard news reports about a persistently disruptive club, Club NRG, in downtown Kansas City. On Wednesday, the owner told the City’s Regulated Industries division that he is shutting the club down before he is forced to sell his liquor license Nov. 30.

Let me assure you this didn’t happen by accident. Shutting down this club at 220 Admiral took a concerted effort from the Police Department, Regulated Industries, the Fire Marshall and the community. I wanted to share with you a bit of the history of this club and all the work that went into shutting it down for the safety of those who live around it.

About four years ago, the club changed hands and went from being a relatively quiet establishment to Club NV. NV initially was run by a man who was arrested and convicted of selling a large amount ecstasy. Management changed hands again when that man went to prison. Under this regime, police started receiving calls about large disturbances and fights taking place at the club. Police started conducting surveillance on Club NV and video-taped these events.

Club NV was open four nights a week, five hours per night. From Jan. 1, 2008, to Feb. 28, 2009, police were called to the club 111 times. The club was only open 220 days in this time frame, and police responded there half the nights it was open. (This only includes calls involving the actual operation of Club NV and not auto thefts, stealing and other crimes reported in the area). Patrons were disrupting the quality of life for area residents by urinating in the street, sidewalk and parking lots. Traffic associated with the club often completely blocked off Admiral for extended periods of time. People drank outside the club and littered cans and bottles. Loud music from cars disturbed nearby residents and kept them awake. But what made Club NV especially dangerous was the violence associated with it. Large fights broke out repeatedly, including some involving deadly weapons.

Police took their case to Regulated Industries in spring 2009, and the club was shut down for 45 days. The owner did some renovations, re-opened the club in September of last year, and renamed it Club NRG. The same problems arose again. From September to December 2009, police responded to another 24 calls at the location. So far this year, we’ve responded to 58 calls at Club NRG. Remember, they’re only open for about 20 hours a week. This was a huge drain on police resources. At least four officers responded all calls there, and if a fight broke out, nearly every officer in the downtown area responded. Club NRG staff provided no assistance to police and did nothing to stop the fights. Lately, police had been stationing multiple officers at the club every night. They set up around 2:30 a.m. to keep traffic moving when the club closed and worked to deter violence. Again – a big drain on police resources. A few weeks ago, a shooting took place before police had arrived.

Thankfully, we were not alone in our endeavor to stop this community nuisance. In addition to Regulated Industries leaders Gary Majors and Gerald Countz, Fire Marshall Bob Richardson assisted us greatly. The Fire Marshall shut down the club multiple nights for dangerous over-crowding and has pointed out the building had fire related hazards, which the club owner eventually rectified. Our Vice Unit also went under-cover in the club multiple times and saw the kind of violence going on inside. They also saw how profitable the business was. The owner was charging $25 to $65 per person for cover.

But now the club is shutting down for good, and what has made the difference this time is the community. They have stepped up to reclaim their neighborhood. Many people live in condos in the area, and had grown frustrated with the violence, noise, traffic, thefts, trash, urine smells and quality-of-life issues. Area residents have been monitoring the club, and if a problem arises before police get there, residents call us and tell us everything that’s happening until we arrive. They’ve documented the crowds and disturbances on video and have shared a lot of information with us.

After more than two years of hard police work and efforts from the community, Regulated Industries and the Fire Marshall, it finally appears this nuisance business is ceasing. Although it took a while, it’s a great example of the kind of neighborhood stability and security that can be achieved when we all work together. If you have a similar concern about a business where you live, please let us know.

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