November 28, 2006
Dear Mr. Stanley:
Thank you very much for sending me a copy of your letter to Serge Becker concerning your experience with the bouncers at La Esquina restaurant and bar on October 7 of this year. I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I was deeply sorry to hear of your and your girlfriend’s awful encounter with the bouncers at La Esquina that evening. It is because of situations like this (and worse) that the Council and I have been working aggressively to rope in the problems in New York’s nightlife.
As you know, the Council and I have introduced a 3-point plan to improve nightclub safety. First, we have proposed the creation of a local enforcement unit of the State Liquor Authority (SLA). This unit would have the power to promptly revoke or suspend liquor licenses, levy fines for violations and work collaboratively with local law enforcement to ensure that SLA regulations are adhered to by all bars and nightclubs.
Second, on September 27th, the Council introduced a package of legislation that would require nightclubs to take steps to improve the safety and security of their premises. The proposed legislation calls for the following:
Requiring ID verification scanners at club entrances – The scanners, able to detect fake ID’s, will prevent underage patrons from gaining entry to nightclubs.
Installing security cameras at club entrances and exits – Cameras will help fight crime in and around clubs. If an investigation into a crime is warranted, law enforcement will have greater information to prosecute criminals.
Strengthening training for cabaret employees – Improved nightclub safety education will instruct employees how to spot underage drinkers, when to stop serving inebriated customers, and what to do in emergency situations in the club and on the streets.
Requiring clubs with repeat violations to hire independent monitors – Establishments that commit serious violations such as hiring unlicensed security guards, violating underage drinking laws, or have repeated patterns of violation will be required, at their own expense, to hire safety monitors. Monitors, who will be approved by the NYPD, will work with the Police Department and nightclub managers to improve club safety.
As we improve security at nightclubs around the city, the Council and I are ever mindful of the importance of respecting nightclub-goers’ privacy, and are currently developing clear guidelines as to how personal information will be collected, used, retained and destroyed.
The third part of the plan calls for a Nightlife Safety Summit, which took place on September 28th and witnessed honest and productive discussions among stakeholders from every side of the nightlife safety issue. Participants included representatives from city government, law enforcement, nightclub owners, and organizations directly involved with New York City’s nightlife. They discussed solutions to our club safety issues, including underage drinking, security in and around clubs, and violence prevention. Details from the summit will soon be available on the Council’s website at www.nyccouncil.info.
As for your questions regarding the Bouncer Bill, as you may know, the law recently went into effect on November 21st. The law allows the city to shut down establishments that hire security guards who have not undergone required background checks, and represents a crucial step in our efforts to crack down on nightclubs that jeopardize the public by refusing to comply with safety regulations. Violations of the bill can be reported to the New York City Police Department, the Department of Consumer Affairs, or the Department of Buildings. Previously, there was no requirement that clubs keep a record log of security personnel working each night. Going forward, there will be such a requirement, but there is no public database containing this information.
Thank you again for sending me a copy of your letter to Mr. Becker. I trust that the Civilian Complaint Review Board has responded appropriately to your complaints regarding the police that evening. If you have any further thoughts or concerns about the Bouncer Bill, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Christine C. Quinn
Dear Speaker Quinn,
Thanks very much for taking the time to respond and to provide this
information. In rereading your letter I wanted to respond regarding
the points made in your last two paragraphs; one, that there is no
such public database of security personnel. My understanding is
that it's always been a New York State law that all bouncers be licensed
security guards and that previously only the State Liquor Authority could
enforce it, but that they didn't have the resources to monitor all the
clubs and bars in the city. But the NY State Department of State does
have a database at http://appsext5.dos.state.ny.us/lcns_public/chk_load.
I have tried searching using "La Esquina" and "Serge Becker" and
nothing comes up. I have also tried searching using the La Esquina
bouncers' names, and they do not come up as licensed security guards.
My understanding is that if the bouncers are indeed not licensed security
guards, then this would already be a violation of state law predating the
new Bouncer Control Act.
As for the Civilian Complaint Revew Board, I haven't yet received a
response regarding my complaint against the officers but
hopefully I'll hear something eventually.