Council Member Urges Cops to Quit Nightclub Patrol

August 19, 2008 10:21:00 AM PDT
Fresno City Council Member Jerry Duncan wants the police department end its policy of hiring out police officers as nightclub security.Duncan says, " I think for the integrity of the police department which is the most important thing we have in this city to be able to trust our police officers I think this policy needs to be reviewed by the council and I've asked them to eliminate it."

Duncan does not believe police have abused the policy and does not believe nightclub owner Jay Ghazal, says he felt pressured to hire Fresno Police Officers for security, or be run out of business.

Ghazal says, "My biggest quarrel here is what's going on. The unfairness."

Ghazal says he refused a police department offer to hire security at another restaurant he owns. Then, Ghazal's Club M was raided in June. Police chief Jerry Dyer says it was over building code violations. Weeks later, on August 8th, Ghazal's dance permit, which is vital to the operation of a nightclub, was revoked, supposedly because of those violations. But his attorney says the city has yet to produce the evidence, and two hearings where Ghazal was set to refute the charges have been postponed.

A frustrated Ghazal says, "If they don't tell you what they need, how are you going to resolve? And I was up there willing to resolve everything from day one."

It's not just Ghazal. Two former club owners, and a current club manager, who did not want to be identified also told us they felt pressured to hire police officers or face trouble. Former nightclub manager Jeremy Dobbins Put it this way.

"It doesn't reduce your problems; it reduces them (the police) as the problem."

Council member Duncan says the policy leaves the department open to such allegations so he thinks the solution is to quit hiring out officers to bars and nightclubs.

Jerry Duncan: "The best thing for us to do is to eliminate that policy, and then no one can ever make that accusation."

Duncan was going to bring his proposal before the city council at this week's meeting, but says Police Chief Jerry Dyer asked him to put it off for a week.

Action News has asked the city to tell us how many officers are involved in the contract policing program, where they are working, and how much money the city is taking in. The city attorney's office has asked for more time to compile that information.

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