Subsidies resume to bolster police presence at D.C. nightclubs

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The District’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration again is helping nightclubs prevent or reduce violence and other problems by providing subsidies to hire off-duty police officers for security.

The agency was reimbursing roughly half the cost of nightclubs and business-improvement districts that hired Metropolitan Police Department officers until March, when budget cuts ended the program.

The agency was able to resume the program in July with tighter guidelines — cutting the rate to 25 percent and limiting the reimbursement times to Fridays and Saturdays from midnight to 4 a.m., according to the agency.

Officials have welcomed the return of the program, despite the restrictions.

“We cut way back when there was zero subsidy,” said Kristen Barden, executive director of the Adams Morgan Partnership, a business improvement district in Northwest with a popular nightclub scene.

The business district used to employ four officers on Friday nights and six officers on Saturday nights. However, officials cut back to three officers each night when the subsidy was eliminated because the $55-an-hour fee per officer was too expensive.

Many establishments cut back on the so-called reimbursable details after the subsidies were dropped, said Metropolitan Police Lt. Gary Durand. Some clubs dropped police details entirely, leading to more incidents at clubs, he said.

As a result, police had to respond, taking time away from other patrol duties.

“For officers, [nightclub security is] a way to earn overtime, but for officers on duty, they can focus more on patrol duties,” Lt. Durand said.

In March, 27 entities employed off-duty police officers. The program cost roughly $139,300 that month. Of that, the ABRA paid about $24,500 according to the agency.

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