Off duty officers can no longer work the bar scene - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Off duty officers can no longer work the bar scene

August 25, 2006

Albany--If you enjoy spending a Friday night at an Albany night club, you won't see off-duty police officers looking out for your safety anymore.

Recently, the Albany Police Department prohibited officers from taking second jobs at bars.

WALB News 10 talked to one area club owner who wishes A.P.D. would have a change of heart.

Inside the House of Jazz, folks like to have a good time.

"The House of Jazz is a place where we want people to come out and enjoy themselves," says Alma Noble.  She owns the Albany night club.

"Having Fun" is a major theme here, but safety is just as important.

"We strive to provide a nice, clean, decent, safe environment for people to have fun and relax in," says Noble. 

Only it's gotten somewhat harder to do.  Since 1977, night club owner, Noble, has been able to hire about three or four off duty officers to patrol the outside of this night club; however, as of March, that's no longer been a possibility.

"Sometimes in a night club, with the mixture of alcohol, it can sometimes get out of hand, and you need law enforcement," says Mustafa Waldon.  He visits the House of Jazz regularly and appreciates the added protection off duty officers provide.

"Just the presence alone of an officer in uniform, sometimes controls a lot of situations, the same way at the fair grounds, the school system, any where," he says.

Much of the revenue the House of Jazz generates comes from alcohol sales.

"Because we're in an establishment that serves alcohol, we cannot use the off duty sheriff's, or the Dougherty County policemen," says Noble.

Noble recently pleaded her case before Albany Police Chief James Younger.

"Seemingly, it was to no avail. And there was no particular reason as to why because this is something that existed in Albany for years!" says Noble.

The lack of off duty officers has become an inconvenience for the business owner.

"We don't have the inner security, inner feeling of security, of knowing that if anything happens, there's someone here who can handle it effectively," says Noble. 

She recently hired private security guards for her busy night club.  She says you can't have fun, if safety doesn't come first.

In Albany, only businesses where alcohol sales make up less than half their revenue can use off-duty police officers.   A.P.D. would not talk to us about this issue.

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