Citizens, police chief want tougher laws for event halls - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Citizens, police chief want tougher laws for event halls

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Complaints continue to pile up against so-called "event halls" in the city of Chattanooga.

Now city leaders are taking aim at new rules and regulations to protect the neighborhoods around them.

The most recent incident happened at an event hall on Dodds Avenue, where one person was killed and another injured in a shooting last month.

The city's top cop says his officers are doing all they can, but new laws are needed to help police crack down on illegal clubs.

One by one residents and business owners complained about shootings, stabbing's, noise, and violence surrounding after hour clubs.

"Parking, public nudity, you name it, the city is not doing anything," said Kerrick Johnson.

"These rules, you've already have them in place they've just got to be pushed. And make sure that everybody has to go by the same rules," said Gwendolyn Blackmon.

"We're looking to you to make something happen," said Teresa Ivy.

It wasn't only citizens asking city council members to take action.

"A lot of times we'll show up on the scene and there is no one there except for someone sweeping up glass in a parking lot. So we've got to try to find a victim, find a witness, we've got to find a responsible owner. All of those things are impossible to find most of the time," said Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd.

Police Chief Bobby Dodd says the city's current ordinances leave too many loopholes, making it hard to build cases against nightclubs and event halls operating illegally.

"The real sanction is going to come when we get enough violations or nuisance issues that we can go in and shut the place down," said Dodd.

Dodd says there are at least 10 illegal event halls in the city, and many of them are associated with gang violence.

He says the best way to shut them down is to write better laws.

Chief of Staff Travis McDonough says that's exactly what the mayor's office plans to do.

"We are going to make sure that what are being called event halls are just as safe as any restaurant or bar any citizen would walk into," Travis McDonough, Chief of Staff of Mayor Andy Berke's Office.

McDonough says the administration has been working to draft new legislation to crack down on event halls operating illegally.

It is expected to be presented to the city council to vote on in the next few weeks.

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