Shootings in Lawrence Rekindle Nightclub Debate

Good, in-depth reporting by the Lawrence Eagle Tribune on the recent spate of violence at bars and nightclubs at 205 Broadway and the local police and ABCC’s efforts to deal with the liquor license owners. The Trib relays stories of shootings and drug deals and questions whether local authorities are equipped to combat the crimes. In the last three years, at least a dozen people were stabbed, shot, or beaten in 11 separate incidents on the short strip at 205 Broadway, and police say some victims never make it into incident reports.

Lawrence’s ongoing financial crisis is not aiding the city’s reins on the bars and clubs. On July 1, funding for the Licensing Board was cut from $45,000 to $32,000 by cutting stipends for the board’s three members by 10 percent and by reducing a secretary’s hours. At the Police Department, the number of sworn officers has been cut from 161 to 110 over the last two years, causing the elimination of the special drug enforcement and community policing units that had been a major presence in the bars. No stings or undercover busts are planned.

The Tribune reports that “For a city that’s broke, solutions can be elusive.” Part of the problem may fix itself under new state regulations requiring people holding liquor licenses to insure themselves for $250,000 per injury or death connected to their restaurant, bar or club. Some establishments in Lawrence may not be able to afford the insurance.

City Council President Frank Moran has proposed tightening regulations controlling restaurants that serve alcohol.