• 64°

Brookhaven aldermen weigh in on police chief’s plan for safer city

Several Brookhaven aldermen want to hear more about Police Chief Kenneth Collins’ plans to make the city safer.

Following a fatal shooting at the Oasis Club on South First and Martin streets Nov. 24, Collins said he’d like to see  the city pass a law that would require club owners or people who rent facilities for private or public functions to provide security at events where alcohol will be consumed, whether it’s served there or brought in.

Oasis Club owner David Holloway said “no loitering” and “no firearms” signs are posted in multiple locations on the building. He also required that renters provide security at events with alcohol.

“They’ve got to have security and pat down,” he said.

Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron doesn’t drink, but he’s seen the effects of too much of it.

“I’ve seen enough of it to know that when you consume too much alcohol it alters your thinking,” he said.

He thinks Collins is on the right track, but he’d like to hear all the details.

“I support anything that would help save lives,” he said.

Having security would also offer protection for the facility owner. Cameron doesn’t want to pass a law that could ultimately hurt businesses.

“We need to do something on the side of caution,” he said.

Cameron said that he sees a need for more security in the majority of public events, not just at a private party at a rental facility.

“This could happen anytime, anywhere,” he said of the shooting.

He pointed to the need for security at the city’s board meetings.

“There’s been times it’s been useful to have it,” he said. “Sometimes people want to act in an undignified way but they won’t do it when they see security.”

Ward 6 Alderwoman Shelley Harrigill said that she’d like to weigh in if the chief comes to them with a recommendation. While she understands the need to do something to make the city safer, she doesn’t think a law tied to alcohol consumption is the way to do it.

“Alcohol is not the only aggravating factor,” she said.

She suggests tying the amount of security needed to the number of people at an event.

She said she’d like to talk to Collins more about his ideas and let aldermen offer some of their own.

“We need to do something,” she said. “I want us to think outside of the box.”

Fletcher Grice, Ward 5 alderman, said he wants to wait until Collins brings his recommendations to them before he comments about passing an ordinance.

“It needs to be thought through on how many events it would affect,” he said.

The city already has a written policy concerning security at its facilities that are available for rent — the Brookhaven Building, the Bi-Centennial Building, the Recreation Center Building and the Depot. According to the contracts for all four facilities, the Brookhaven Park Commission reserves the right to provide security — at the renter’s expense — for any function which the Park Commission deems necessary to guarantee the health, safety and welfare of both the participants and the facility. The cost of the security to be provided will be set at a reasonable fee in relation to the event and will be paid in advance by the renter as a deposit.

Alcohol is prohibited at the Depot and the Bi-Centennial Building, said Matt Shell, executive director of Brookhaven Parks and Recreation. Renters at the Brookhaven Building and the Recreation Center Building must notify Shell’s office if alcohol is to be served.