On May 21, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a bill that would require all nightclubs in Prince George’s County to provide security plans before being issued any entertainment permits.

House Bill 558 was sponsored by Del. Michael Vaughn, D-Dist.24, and Melony Ghee Griffith, D-Dist. 25, to curb the violence which has plagued Prince George’s nightlife for years.

The legislation is seen as a victory by Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson, who has put his foot down against nightclub violence in the past.

“This bill will allow our police department and Board of Licensing Commissioners to work with owners of establishments that wish to hold night time events and ensure that there is proper planning and security to ensure the safety and well being of all those who wish to attend,” Johnson said in a statement.

In 2007, Johnson shut down nine nightclubs and restaurants because of safety concerns. Many had stemmed from a spate of shootings connected with go-go music concerts. Many of the clubs changed standards of admission and certain bands, such as the Backyard Band, had their names flagged by the county’s liquor board.

This measure goes a step further as it authorizes the issuance of a special entertainment license to an establishment that holds a Class B liquor license. It allows establishments to offer dancing and “other entertainment” from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. and gives authority to the Prince George’s County Police Department and Board of Licensing Commissioners to prevent events from being held at establishments which have not met the new standards.

Businesses that do not comply with the new standards face suspension or revocation of their liquor license, a maximum $12,500 fine for the first offense and a minimum $5,000 fine for each additional offense.

The law goes into effect July 1.


George Barnette

Special to the AFRO