When Orlando city leaders first convened the Cabarets Task Force in December, the group delved into research about places that remained open past 2 a.m. and how better lighting could discourage crime downtown.
But after the mass shooting at Pulse last month, the group’s focus is shifting to comprise a look at security measures that are finest to keep guns from the establishments that are filled. Is it time for the city of Orlando to take this step?
The task force, composed of the city’s downtown development board and nightclub owners, met for the first time since the June 12 massacre on Tuesday. About 20 minutes elapsed before any mention of Beat, the gay club where 49 people were gunned down by a shooter equipped with a rifle.
What Happened At Heartbeat
“We all have our views of what happened at Heartbeat … it’s the elephant in the room perhaps,” said David Arnott, a police officer and special assistant to the mayor, who helped facilitate the discussion. “Lots of bad things happened and a lot of amazing things happened. The general public safety individuals did tremendous.”
Once the strike was referenced by Arnott — and noted this weekend’s shooting at a nightclub in Fort Myers that resulted in the deaths of two teenagers — the venue owners openly shared their procedures for keeping club-goers safe.
John SanFelippo, managing partner at the Beacham and other popular downtown areas, told the crowd of about 50 people that his venues tag all doors that don’t lead outside with the disclaimer, “cabinet.” That can help individuals locate a way out during a mad situation, he said.
Doug Taylor, managing associate for the chain of clubs part of Church Street Entertainment, said his team will be meeting per year to discuss security. Formerly they’d just met once annually.
“We are doing that now because our perception of the danger is so drastically different than it was,” he said. “Not merely owners and not only managers, but every single worker that works for us, we are going to mandate and pay for that training.”
In her remarks, Hughes said her department is seeking funds to put bike paramedics on the roads as downtown Orlando roars to life.
The task force’s next public meeting will be held in September or October, but the exact date remains cloudy.
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