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Two nightclubs footing the bill

Ben Godar

One local nightclub and another that closed in December have been

charged more than $8,000 for excessive police calls.

The owners of Gitana Restaurant at 260 E. Magnolia Blvd. and

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Sensation Village, formerly at 237 E. Olive Ave., recently received

bills for police expenses beyond the minimum three calls per month

each establishment is allowed under conditional-use permits from the

city, authorities said.

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Gitana was billed $3,477 for a total of 15 calls between October

and December, police spokesman Sgt. Bruce Speirs said. During that

period, several large-scale fights took place at the club, including

one melee involving 20 people and another that required 18 officers

and a police helicopter to break up, police said.

Sensation Village was billed $4,760 for just nine incidents in

October and November, Speirs said. The club closed Dec. 21 after

state officials declined to renew its liquor license.

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Among the incidents the club was billed for were two shootings the

night of Nov. 16 that Speirs said led to the deployment of 30

officers, a forensic specialist and the helicopter.

In calculating which calls the clubs would be billed for, Speirs

said police removed those calls not directly related to their

operation, such as a car burglary outside the business. The owners

were charged an hourly rate for each officer and piece of equipment

used on the calls.

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Police are now calculating a bill for excessive police responses

to Gitana between January through April, a stretch during which the

club averaged more than 20 calls per month, according to police

records.

Last month, more than 10 officers responded to a 50-person melee

outside the establishment, and one was injured when a man allegedly

resisted arrest.

“The calls for service had gotten to a point where we felt it was

appropriate to utilize the cost-recovery system in the

conditional-use permit,” Speirs said. “We were devoting a significant

portion of police effort to handling problems there.”

The owners of Gitana did not return repeated calls for comment,

and attempts to reach the former owners of Sensation Village were

unsuccessful.

Despite the number of fights and other incidents at Gitana,

Michael Forbes, the city’s associate planner, said the club’s

conditional-use permit would only be revised if police made such a

recommendation. Speirs said no such recommendation has been made, and

that by allowing police to recoup expenses the current permit is

working the way it was designed.

Police are working to reduce the number of incidents at Gitana by

increasing their visible presence in the area, Speirs said. Police

officials have also met with the club owner, and Speirs said he

believes Gitana staff will work to decrease he number of fights.

“I don’t think they understood the total nature of what was

happening and how it was impacting city services,” he said.

Club owners were asked only to make payment as soon as possible,

Speirs said.


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