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New proposed legislation in Cleveland: Get security or close early

Downtown businessowner calls proposed legislation ‘absurd’
Posted at 10:02 AM, Jul 14, 2023

Cleveland Councilman Richard Starr has proposed new legislation that requires businesses that are open between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. to have at least one armed security guard.

The push to keep businesses safe comes after the mass shooting Sunday morning in the Warehouse District.

The new legislation would affect late-night retail establishments, including bars, grocery stores and gas stations.

The mass shooting may not have been the catalyst, but Councilman Richard Starr says it’s an example showing change needs to happen now.

“When you talk about the safety and the crime spike we’re dealing with in the city, we’ve got to talk about real solutions,” Councilman Starr said.

Days after the mass shooting in the Warehouse District, Starr proposed re-defining late-night businesses to include bars, requiring an armed security guard and shifting the hours to between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Should a violent crime happen, the business must have at least four armed guards or close up for the night.

“I think it’s ridiculous, quite frankly and requiring that a small business could put a lot of smaller retail establishments out of business because it is very expensive to hire armed security,” Sam McNulty said.

News 5 asked McNulty his thoughts on the proposal.

“Short answer; this is absurd,” McNulty said.

He and his business partner operate several restaurants and breweries in Ohio City.

“I would argue, as someone who’s been in this industry for nearly three decades, the last thing we want to do is militarize retail establishments in our city. The guns are the problem; we don't need more of them,” McNulty said.

Court records allege the suspect in the mass shooting got a gun from his car after seeing victims at a bar on West 6th Street and started shooting into a crowd.

Surveillance video shared with News 5 shows people running for cover, and you also see a uniformed officer at the bar.

McNulty says they, too, hire private security and off-duty Cleveland officers.

We asked Starr who would pay for what would be a big expense.

“What I tell the bar owners is, 'Look, let’s sit down and continue to work and vet this out,' but don’t be quick to say, 'Ah, this costs,' but it costs to be able to keep safe, don’t it; it costs funeral costs too,” Starr said.

Starr’s proposal also calls for security cameras inside and outside late-night businesses and for the cameras to be registered with the city’s camera registry and integrated with the Real Time Crime Center.

McNulty loves the idea of cameras and says it’s something he’s discussed with business neighbors in Ohio City as a great tool for the police.

“Putting more guns into the equation is not the answer,” McNulty said.

Starr said he gets calls from people in his ward about shootings and wants the same response as something that makes national headlines.

One homeowner there wouldn’t talk with us on camera about gun crimes fearing possible retaliation.

“We need an actual plan of action of how we’re going to get people to stop using these guns (and you want it done) now,” Starr said.

McNulty says Starr should talk with those in the industry and look at measurable results and what works in other cities.

Starr says the safety chair has the option to call a special hearing for this proposal to be discussed; if not, it’ll have to wait till August 16th.

News 5 Investigators reached out to the mayor’s office about Starr’s proposal.

A spokesman stated in an email, “We were just made aware of the legislation proposed by the representative from Ward 5 yesterday and are currently reviewing it. It will require further discussion with stakeholders.”

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