Schmoke favors using off-duty city officers, professional security companies at events Recommendation comes after 'near riot' in June

August 14, 1998|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Peter Hermann contributed to this article.

Two months after a melee broke out at the city-owned Brokerage building, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke recommended yesterday that entertainment promoters manage their events with uniformed off-duty police officers or professional security companies.

Schmoke made the suggestion after meeting recently with the promoter of the Brokerage event, Phillip Crump of Two Fierce Productions. Crump could not be reached for comment.

The disturbance on June 14 began at 34 Market Place when 3,000 people showed up for a party called "Millennium '98."

Because only 1,100 people were expected, promoters had to stop selling the $15 to $25 tickets at 11 p.m. The frustrated crowd swelled outside and became unruly.

Promoters said they had hired 42 security guards, including seven off-duty police officers and seven off-duty state troopers.

About 60 city officers responded from across the city to quell what they described as a "near riot."

Schmoke said yesterday that operators of such large entertainment events should hire off-duty city police -- pay is an average of $18 an hour -- or a professional security company to maintain order.

"What's been missing is essentially crowd control on the outside at some of these nightclubs," he said. "What the entrepreneurs have learned is that they have to invest more in security and the most effective security are off-duty police officers in uniform."

Baltimore police are allowed to work secondary jobs as long as each assignment is approved by Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier.

In general, officers are not allowed to work, either in uniform or plainclothes, inside bars or liquor establishments.

They are allowed to provide security in parking lots. Exceptions can be made at the commissioner's discretion for events such as at the Brokerage.

Schmoke also announced that he may reconvene the city's Night Life Task Force as a result of the incident. The panel was created last year to explore ways to improve city night life.

The task force, composed of business leaders and city officials, recommended allowing city bars and clubs to stay open as late as 4 a.m. to improve business, bring in new city tax revenue and cut crime by keeping young people off the streets.

The City Council is expected to take up legislation on the matter by the end of the year.

The city hopes to extend night life to increase tourism, similar to cities such as New Orleans and New York.

Pub Date: 8/14/98

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