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DOWNTOWN VIOLENCE: City leaders react to murder outside Rhino Club

READ MORE: DOWNTOWN VIOLENCE: City leaders react to murder outside Rhino Club
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Violence tied to bars in downtown Wilmington has been making news for years. It's sparked a lot of debate but little action. Many folks say this proves downtown Wilmington needs a serious logistical makeover, but what exactly needs to be fixed?

"When do we start taking responsibility for our actions?" Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said. "And that's where this whole thing needs to go. That's where the conversation needs to drive. Both personal responsibility as an individual and personal responsibility as a business owner."

Evangelous said lack of police is not the problem.

"The police aren't the answer here," he said. "We're one cog in the wheel. The easy, the cleanest thing to do is, 'Well the police can solve this. It's the police's problem.' It's not the police's problem. We're one part of the solution to the problem."

So, if the police aren't the problem, then what is? Wilmington Downtown Inc executive director John Hinnant says the state should give more control to the local government when it comes to alcohol enforcement laws.

"Perhaps it's time for them to allow local municipalities to handle alcohol enforcement," Hinnant said. "Not that more police would have stopped this death, but certainly we could definitely do a better job state wide of managing ABC laws."

City councilman Kevin O'Grady says the murder on Market Street proves downtown needs change, like stronger licensing and police enforcement.

"Two years ago when I started the path of making these reforms, the first thing I said was some day we're going to have a bad incident downtown, and it's going to give us a bad reputation," O'Grady said. "Well this is the kind of incident that can do that."

For now, the talk continues with no word on when any action will happen.

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Downtown shame

I used to love it downtown but now, I will not take my family down there anymore. The place is starting to really scare me as I feel that there is not enough enforcement on any level. It's become a cesspool of degenerates, drunks and thugs. No more. They've lost my patronage. So sad.

According to WHQR, downtown holds a record....

....and not an eviable one: The most dense packing of bars in the state!

With all the military and college towns, Wilmington holds that record? What an accomplishment!

Other towns may have more, but we were smart enough dense-pack them to insure that when the bars close, we have thousands of drunks in a relatively confined area.

How did New York clean up that former swine pit known as Times Square? Zoning laws. Wilmington could do the same thing. They could cap the number of bars. They could restrict the number of bars per city block. (You simply restrict any new license being issued until a bar closes. If you want to reduce the number of bars, you simply stop new licenses until five or ten close.)

To hurry those closings along, they became absolute death on following the letter of the law. If your maximum occupancy was two-hundred and you had more than that on a couple of snap, unannounced inspections by the fire marshal, you lost your license. If ALE caught you serving minors or obviously intoxicated persons on a few occasions, you lost your license.

Ah, but that took leadership, stamping out corruption within government departments, and a real desire to truly clean up the place.

We'll never see that from Wilmington's City Council.

yes

They need to cut occupancy by half and set the noise ordinance to 10 p.m. Bars are no fun without music. Also no one under 21 allowed in any place that serves alcohol and is not a restaurant, period. ILM needs to stop worrying about offending the drunks.

Bar owners need to pay for more security outside their own bars. Why should tax payers??

Mr. Hinnat continues

his conversations.

A week or so ago, he felt unarmed safety monitors, or some such animal, should be funded by the downtown businesses as a means to curb downtown problems. Of course they would go home before the real issues would develop. And he never stated how they should respond if confronted by an armed individual.

Now he feels municipalities can better handle the problem then the State department empowered to do so.

Some weeks ago, the Governor told Chris Phillips she would come back to Wilmington if she was given a reason.

Is this enough reason?

Why not have her, the 3 State ABC commissioners, and the head of the ALE all come to Wilmington where she can direct the State Officials to take charge and correct the problem.

If that means Rhino loses its ABC and occupancy licenses for 60 days while an investigation takes place, so be it.

Then enforce some strict sanctions on whomever is held accountable for these types of incidents.

Now's the time to take action. Get the Mayor and Council on a bus to Raleigh. Have them meet with the Governor; and send a good reporter along who can record the responses to tough questions.

Hold the elected and appointed officials accountable.

Now that would be live, local, and interactive.

Towns with the power...?

The LAST thing that should be done is to give small corrupt towns the power.
Towns that are unofficially controlled by egotistical, power hungry, greedy, opportunistically leeches like Hinnant.

Where are the patrols???

There used to be an appropriate amount of officers downtown. What happened? Where are they now? It is not a surprise when the clubs close, where are the officers?
Provide adequate policing when needed, simple. This will not eliminate, but it will curb the violence.
When the police persuade people to disperse and not remain gathered after business hours the problem will lessen.
For those that do not know, go downtown an look for yourself. The police patrol is minumum at best when the clubs are open. Then most of that is at the intersection of market and front and no where else.
It is a neccessity to have a patrol on each block and extend to the surrounding streets. These patrols need to be there to keep people safe that walk home, to disperse groups and provide check points for DUIs.
There used to be a complete team downtown, surveillance, paddy wagon, foot patrols, horseback and cruisers. Where did they go?
Other cities provide this type of emforcement for their entertainment district, why not Wilmington?

Why not hire a consulting

Why not hire a consulting firm and pay them a few hundred thousand dollars for them to say that most of the bars need to be closed and the cops need to start cracking some heads.

Right on6381

As a matter of fact, why not have the "Consultants" in their three piece suits and with their laptops come down there and control the riots.

Maybe they could hit the bad guys with their laptops. If they still had them after 15 minutes down there.