Wichita Police will be presenting a proposal to the city council next week to crack down on problem nightclubs.
Wichita's Old Town district is an obvious hot spot for partiers, especially on the weekends. Over the last two years, nine people have been killed in Wichita at nightclubs. That's not to mention the drug, weapon, and fighting violations. Now, police hope to create a series of triggers that would allow them to hopefully prevent problem businesses from escalating into serious violence.
"It's not our goal to wait until they have their first incident of violence and then shut them down," says Wichita Police Deputy Chief Tom Stolz. "Our goal is to work with them and create as safe an environment for their patrons and staff as we can."
According to police, the goal is to combat the problem of nightclub violence without causing problems for clubs that don't have persistent problems. Stolz says the city has a duty to ensure safety not only for the people who visit the nightclubs, but also for the people who live near them.
"It'll never be perfect," says Stolz. "We've had violence in clubs since Dodge City. It's never gonna be perfect, but any time you mix alcohol with night life, some people can't handle alcohol very well and they cause problems. They'll have to work with us."
At Larry Bud's Bar and Grill near 21st and Woodlawn, General Manager Christina Harmon doesn't have a problem with what police are trying to do.
"I don't think it's a bad thing," she says. "I'm definitely for it, because if you're doing the right things, you're not going to get shut down. The problem makers will come to light and they should be dealt with."
A lot of the problem comes from complications in Wichita's original liquor and club laws. Stolz says the old ordinance needs to be cleaned up regardless of whether the city is having a problem with violence. He assures business owners that police aren't simply looking to shut them down for no reason.
"If you do things to try to get better and you still have those kinds of issues, we're gonna work with you," Stolz explains. "Our business is not to shut you down. Our business is to create a safe environment for the members that work there and the clients."
The police department will present its draft proposal of their new ordinance to the city council next week. A vote on the issue will likely happen by the end of the month.