Council hopes to limit party houses

The city council public safety committee on Monday advanced a bill intended to crack down on illegal party houses that disrupt neighborhoods.

The change, which would allow police to order people to leave the houses and arrest them if they do not, now goes to the full council for final approval.

Police Sgt. Brad Dumit, a leader of the vice squad, told council members that the houses have been a huge problem for years and not just for the neighborhoods.

“It brings everything with it,” he said, listing fights, assaults, shootings, prostitution, rape, narcotics and loud people loitering outside the houses for hours.

People go to the houses after the bars close and often stay until 6 a.m., Dumit said.  They generally pay $10 to get in and buy drinks and often drugs while inside.

Under current law, a person can say the drinkers were all his or her guests and just tell police to leave, he said. City prosecutors who pursue the cases often see them dismissed by judges.

The new law defines nuisance businesses and nuisance parties and allows police to act against them for a variety of reasons, including crimes there, serving liquor without a license and the parked cars of their customers impeding street traffic.

Dumit said about a half dozen of the houses operate regularly citywide during the summer and the bill would allow police to enter them immediately and make arrests.

The punishment would be up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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