By: Tom Duggan – Nov. 19, 2017
After another night of violence and mayhem during last-call at Lawrence nightclubs Friday, Lawrence Superior Officers Union President Scott McNamara has called for the rolling back of club closing hours from 2am to 12pm.
Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera and at least one city councilor say they support the last call roll back.
The union president is speaking out after video surfaced, of a fight outside a night club on Mill Street after 2am closing. Police that night were called away from other 911 calls to the area of Essex and Newbury and Essex and Mill Streets as thousands of night club patrons were all leaving the clubs at the same time.
Nearly ten years ago, (then) Police Chief John Romero had the city rollback night club closing hours. Lawrence experienced an immediate, significant, and measurable reduction in violent crime as the result of that change.
During the Lantigua administration, night club closing times were changed again, to 2am on Friday nights bringing in a flood of patrons from other communities to Lawrence, where last call is one or two hours later.
A new city council was seated at the time (not the current council), and an argument was advanced that suggested that what the city really needed was to extend back the club closing hours in order to attract young professionals that sought to settle down in a City that maintained a “vibrant night life”.
“This video is an example of that vibrant nightlife that Lawrence Police Officers are forced to contend with almost every weekend night,” Captain McNamara told The Valley Patriot.
“With more than 80 liquor licenses in the City, Lawrence Police Officers simply can not be every where at once.”
“Last night’s violence occurred in spite of the fact that our club patrols were doubled, and augmented by the State Police, Essex County Sheriff’s, and Auxiliary Police.”
Lawrence City Councilor Marc Laplante said that he has long favored rolling back last call for Lawrence nightclubs.
“I have supported proposals in the past to scale back closing hours at bars and clubs. They should at least be similar to the closing hours in nearby communities. Last call at 2 AM is way too late.”
“Under the current ordinance, Lawrence is simply importing violence,” McNamara continued.
In June, a viscous nightclub shooting at the Dubai Nightclub on Jackson St., renewed calls by some residents and candidates for office to roll back last call but those calls died down in the heat of the campaign.
“While our neighbors across the Merrimack Valley and beyond close up shop, shudder their doors, and ready themselves for sleep, the City of Lawrence awakens. Hundreds of revelers, not yet finished with the all night party, rush to our city for last call. At closing time, these large groups simultaneously spill out onto our city streets, making the alcohol fueled violence almost inevitable.”
McNamara said that he believes it is “bad public policy for a city that can ill afford it.”
“The department has come along way in the past four years. Our statistics show that our officers are working harder then ever, and their efforts are paying off with significant reductions in most crime categories. All that progress gets overshadowed, and the city’s image suffers when the general public wakes up to yet another report of the reoccurring and predictable violence that routinely occurs in our city at club closing time.”
McNamara said that with a new city council to be seated in January, it is time to revisit this issue and bring calm to the city after midnight.