Cameras now required for Chicago nightclubs

City council ordinance now requires cameras, exterior lighting, security officer training


The City Council voted last month to require all late-hour liquor establishments, including bars, clubs and restaurants, to operate with an exterior safety plan that includes security cameras, personnel training, outdoor lighting and measures designed to reduce criminal activity. Under the ordinance, businesses are required to:

- Install surveillance cameras at entrances and exits. Cameras will record from 1 to 6 a.m. Recordings are required to be kept for 72 hours.

- Implement measures meant to curtail excessive noise, loitering, littering, fighting and other criminal activity.

- Install adequate exterior lighting.

- Adequately train security personnel. The plan must disclose the number of on-site security personnel and the extent of their training.

- Submit their exterior plan to the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing by Jan. 1 if they have an existing late-hour liquor license. New license applicants must submit the plan before issuance of a license.

"The ordinance is to help improve the quality of life for residents who live by late-hour liquor establishments and ensure the safety of patrons," said Efrat Stein, spokeswoman for the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing.

Daniel Sullivan, general manager of Charlie's Chicago, a 4 a.m. bar in Lakeview, said the bar already tries to keep its music low and ensure patrons leave the bar quietly and safely. Sullivan said he installed cameras at the bar for $15,000 -- though he disagrees with that tenet of the ordinance.

"It's an invasion of privacy," Sullivan said. "But what are you going to do?"

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LATE-HOUR LICENSES

Currently, there are about 200 businesses with late-hour liquor licenses in the city of Chicago. Many of the establishments are concentrated in the Loop, River North and the Gold Coast. The city council has approved moratoriums on new late-hour bars in those neighborhoods and others.