Proposed law would require all late-night businesses to hire armed security in Cleveland

Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 10:22 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A mass shooting in Cleveland’s Warehouse District last weekend that sent nine people to the hospital was a devastating wake-up call to many in the city that the gun violence is out of control.

“Gun violence has really spiked and gone through the roof in our city, and I’m just appalled that we continuously see the same thing reoccurring,” said Ward 5 Cleveland City Councilman Richard Starr.

Recent statistics from police show shootings are up 12%, murders are up 30% and carjackings in the city are up 98% from last year.

“We have to take every action and every measure that exists to figure out a solution right now,” Starr said.

Starr has been touched by violence firsthand. One of his best friends was shot and killed this January at a gas station on Woodland Avenue in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood.

“A guy walks in with an ak47 assault rifle, and they get to tussling and fighting and he gets killed and he ends up getting killed right inside this gas station,” said Starr. “I too am affected by gun violence, not just an elected official passing laws no, I’m on the front lines.”

If the ordinance passes it would require any bar, restaurant, store, or gas station operating between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. to have at least one-armed security guard.

“What it can do is it can serve that it’s not like you can just run in somewhere and just start shooting up the spot with your gun,” Starr said.

General manager of Map Room in the Warehouse District Kimberly Kowalski understands the need to ramp up security.

“It’s super unfortunate being like a small business down here in the Warehouse District and it feels like a nice place to work but when you hear about the recent crime that’s been happening just a few short blocks from us it’s pretty concerning,” said Kowalski.

Map Room already has a Cleveland police officer from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but she thinks having one seven days a week might be tough for business owners to afford.

“It does seem like a great idea seeing the uprise in crime, but I don’t think it’s a reasonable expectation for the small businesses down here who are also trying to make money,” Kowalski said.

19 News spoke with several other bars off camera who agree the ordinance goes too far saying hiring one armed security officer can cost between $50 to $70 an hour.

“This gun violence is too big of an expense that we keep dealing with as far as these funerals that keep getting paid for,” Starr said. “As many victims that we have of gun violence we all gotta do our due diligence so if we gotta adjust some hours of operations so be it.”

The bill would also require these late-night businesses to have surveillance cameras inside and outside that are registered with the city and if crimes are committed at that late-night business, they’d be required to hire four-armed security guards.

“I understand what we need to do, and I feel like I can help bridge the gap so we can get these solutions in place so we can make sure our city is safe,” Starr said. “These people with these guns do not run this city, we do as leaders, we run this city and we’re gonna do our job.”

Councilman Starr said the ordinance could pass as early as August and if it does pass any late-night business that doesn’t hire armed security could be charged with a misdemeanor.