Followup: 7th Precinct’s Nightlife Crackdown

On Monday, we reported about the 7th Precinct’s new crackdown on the Lower East Side’s bars and clubs.  At a Community Board 3 meeting last night, District Manager Susan Stetzer offered a bit more information.  She said the precinct has reinstated its cabaret unit, a special squad assigned to deal specifically with nightlife-related issues.

The unit was formed to combat an uptick in crime inside some of the neighborhood’s bars. As 7th Precinct Deputy Inspector Nancy Barry explained during a community meeting a few days ago, there have been quite a few reports of stolen purses, cell phones and other items from LES establishments in recent months.

Stetzer said the unit is also focusing its attention on problem bars, places that have repeatedly ignored complaints from residents about noise and unruly crowds.

The status of the NYPD’s cabaret units is a touchy subject.  Most of them were phased out a couple of years ago, allegedly due to budget cuts, but police officials have denied that financial considerations were the reason. In its district budget priorities, CB3 has urged the city to reinstate the units. Some bar owners believe they are effective and productive. Other nightlife operators disagree. CB3 member and bar owner David McWater has called officers in the cabaret units a “bunch of goons harassing people.”

On a separate but related matter, the community board decided to delay voting on sweeping new policies governing its SLA Committee. For the past several months, CB3 has been weighing changes in the way it evaluates liquor license applications. McWater and other members felt more time was needed to look at the proposals. You can see the draft proposals here.