Providence refusing to offer police details at strip clubs

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence officials may have failed to permanently close the Foxy Lady strip club following the arrests of three dancers on prostitution charges, but the police department is still taking action against the establishment.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare confirmed Monday the city is no longer allowing police details at any adult entertainment facility, a rule that will force some clubs to hire private security instead of paying the police department to monitor them.

“We have canceled police details at adult entertainment clubs,” Pare wrote in an email to Eyewitness News. “It isn’t in our best interest having a police detail at these clubs.” Pare would not elaborate further on the decision.

Pare said the police department will work with the Providence Board of Licenses and the R.I. Department of Business Regulation (DBR) in cases where establishments are required to have police details. The Foxy Lady has often paid for police security in the past.

The Foxy Lady was closed by the licensing board last month at the urging of Pare and Mayor Jorge Elorza after three women were accused of soliciting undercover cops for sex. City leaders argued the club’s management took a cut of the fee individuals paid for sex.

The R.I. Supreme Court and DBR stayed the enforcement of the city’s revocation of the club’s business licenses, allowing the Foxy Lady to reopen Friday. The club is not currently allowed to use its VIP area, a section of the club where people can pay for private dances.

As part of its order allowing the Foxy Lady to temporarily continue selling liquor, the DBR ordered the club to have a police detail every Friday and Saturday night.

Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the order that was modified Tuesday following Pare’s announcement Monday. Now, the Foxy Lady must provide additional private security, “in the same strength and for the same time period as would have been provided by the police detail.”

The state’s high court has ordered the Foxy Lady’s attorneys and the city to mediation to reach a resolution when it comes to discipline for the club. If an agreement can’t be reached, the justices will hear the case in April.

Michael Imondi, the president of the Providence Fraternal Order of Police, said Monday private security “will not deter criminal activity in clubs nor will they they control what happens and are more likely to not report things when they do.”

“A police presence deters most criminal and social disorder activity no matter the venue,” he said. “On duty detail officers alleviate the need to tie up a patrol unit. Details officers handle most issues without patrol assistance, keeping officers on the streets and in the neighborhoods.”

Imondi told Eyewitness News, four of the city’s strip clubs consistently hired police details every weekend — including Foxy Lady.

“The Providence police detail has been very effective for us,” said Foxy Lady Manager Richard Angell. “We usually have them on weekends, and they do a great job controlling the crowd.”

Angell said he believes having uniformed officers in the club deterred patrons from misbehaving. He was disappointed in the announcement that details would no longer be available.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the clubs, all the clubs in the city,” said Angell.

Imondi is worried about the impact this decision will have on strip clubs in Providence.

“I think you’re going to see problems starting at these clubs as soon as the patrons realize there’s no longer police officers there,” said Imondi.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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