PG closes 9 clubs to halt violence

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Prince George’s County officials said yesterday they are closing nine nightclubs to stop the high rate of violent crime, and authorities are warning other clubs they could be next.

“The intent is to close them down this weekend,” Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson said. “It’s our intent that they be closed forever.”

Mr. Johnson, a Democrat, said the county has the authority through a County Council bill that went into effect in September. The bill allows authorities to close a business that “presents an imminent danger and threat to the health, safety and welfare of the public.”

Police Chief Melvin C. High targeted clubs with a high number of police calls, many of which were for violent crimes.

Police counted more than 1,000 calls for service combined at three Hyattsville clubs. The chief said about 20 to 30 officers are assigned to one of the clubs on an average night, which “adversely affects our ability to police the rest of the county.”

The clubs are the Millennium, Cuzco Restaurant, and Tick Tock Restaurant and Bar in Hyattsville; Crossroads Entertainment Complex in Bladensburg; LePearl in Capitol Heights; CFE in Forestville; Knights of Columbus in District Heights; Classics III Supper Club in Camp Springs; and Tradewinds in Clinton.

The owners of the clubs were to be notified yesterday afternoon, and police would start padlocking the doors afterward, Mr. Johnson said.

“We understand that someone has a right to operate a business,” Mr. Johnson said, “but they must operate in a legal manner that does not threaten public safety, and these clubs have not operated in that fashion.”

He warned other clubs in the county to “obey the law and operate a safe, orderly entertainment facility in our county or you will be closed down.”

Bar owners can appeal the decision to the zoning board next week.

Classics III Supper Club has been involved in a lawsuit against the county over new regulations on strip clubs. In October, club owner International Nite Life Entertainment Inc. joined three other clubs in suing the government over new rules that mandated earlier closing times, security requirements, a ban on tipping dancers and a $200-a-year licensing fee for dancers.

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