NYC Passes Nightclub Security Measures

NEW YORK (AP) - The City Council has passed measures -- about a year after the death of a Massachusetts woman -- that require security cameras at nightclub doors and make it easier to shut down businesses that sell fake identifications.

Graduate student Imette St. Guillen, a Boston native, was abducted, raped and killed last February. An unlicensed bouncer at a Manhattan bar where she had been drinking was charged in her death.

Rosemarie Arnold, a lawyer for St. Guillen's mother and sister, said Wednesday the family was grateful the City Council had acted to make nightlife safer.

'They feel that any law passed in Imette's name carries out her legacy and means that Imette did not die in vain,' she said.

The Boston City Council also unanimously passed a law on Wednesday that requires background checks for bouncers and training for security staffers at bars that have three or more reported cases of bouncer-on-patron violence.

Imette's Law comes on the heels of an increase in reported cases of bouncers assaulting customers in Boston bars.

'Enough is enough,' Councilor Michael Flaherty said. 'People are being brutalized.'

The New York City Council bills expand the nuisance abatement law to allow the city to shut down businesses making or selling fake IDs and allow independent monitors for clubs with serious or repeat safety violations. Clubs that commit serious violations would be permitted, at their own expense, to hire safety monitors in lieu of license suspension.

The bills also require security cameras at club entrances and exits. Recordings would be stored in a restricted area and only authorized personnel will have access to film.

The council also called upon the Legislature and State Liquor Authority to restrict the increasingly common use of bottle service, whereby patrons must buy a full bottle of alcohol instead of a single drink.

'In recent months the city's night life industry has been marred by a number of high profile tragedies and acts of violence -- many of which were linked to problems with club security and management practices,' Council Speaker Christine Quinn said. 'This package of nightlife safety legislation aims to help solve those problems and to ensure that night life in New York City is safe and secure.'

Robert Bookman, counsel for the New York Nightlife Association, said club owners support the crackdown on what he called 'a tsunami' of fake IDs.

He said bills requiring cameras and providing for independent monitors apply only to establishments with city-issued cabaret licenses. He estimated that about 200 dance clubs would be affected.

'Most of our members already have security cameras,' Bookman said.

St. Guillen's body was found in Brooklyn on Feb. 25, 2006. Authorities believe bouncer Darryl Littlejohn killed the graduate student. Littlejohn, a parolee with a long criminal history, has been charged with murder in her death. He has denied any role.

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