Scottsdale mayor seeking talks on bar-area safety

By Edward Gately
The Republic |

The stabbing of a nightclub bouncer in downtown Scotts­dale has prompted Mayor Jim Lane to call a series of meetings to address safety in the area.

Tyrice Thompson, 27, of La­veen, was stabbed five times outside Martini Ranch, 7295 E. Stetson Drive. The attack took place last Sunday about 1 a.m. As of Friday, Thompson re­mained hospitalized in serious condition.

The bar is in the city’s down­town entertainment district, south of Camelback Road be­tween Scottsdale and Miller roads.

Dozens of nightclubs, beach clubs, bars and restaurants are clustered in the area and attract thousands of patrons every weekend. 

In a letter to the Scottsdale City Council dated Wednesday, Lane outlined his plans for the meetings.

“These horrific and tragic events are unacceptable, and while nothing we may consider will ever curtail evil altogether, it is important that we take this opportunity to see what weaknesses exist in our current plans and procedures, and if there are ways we can improve,” he said.

Lane plans to meet with the Scottsdale Downtown and Entertainment District Association, which consists of downtown bar and restaurant owners, as well with as the Police Department and city staff.

The meetings are not open to the public, said J.P. Twist, the mayor’s chief of staff. The mayor will bring recommendations to the council for its review, input and possible adoption, he said.

The goal is to address “how our law enforcement and those security personnel working with these establishments can better coordinate their actions under their existing security-maintenance and operations plan,” Lane said.

Bars are required to submit a security, maintenance and operations (SMO) plan with the city for review and approval before receiving a conditional- use permit for a bar use or live entertainment.

“This submittal is only required once,” Twist said. “The mayor thinks that the city should consider requiring a resubmittal every year or two, which is one of the many issues that will be discussed. In addition, the mayor hopes to have indepth conversations (about) expanding the current SMO plan requirements.”

Les Corieri, president of the bar owners association, said the stabbing was “a very isolated incident, but we want the public to feel as safe as they can when they come into the district.”

Lane’s initial meeting with the bar owners is set for Feb. 11.

“I think the plans should be reviewed because, sometimes, as business goes on over time, it’s easy to say, ‘Let’s cut back here and cut back there,’ but safety is not one of them,” he said.

S. Barrett Rinzler, owner of Martini Ranch, said he will be attending the meeting to hear about Lane’s plan.

“I will say that the incident that happened with our security guard was an extremely unfortunate and unforeseen incident that was a freak occurrence,” he said.

One group that isn’t invited to the meetings is the Association to Preserve Downtown Scottsdale’s Quality of Life, which formed in 2011 to pressure the city to crack down on crime and other problems associated with nightlife in the district.

“I think it’s more of a public-relations move on the mayor’s part more than anything,” said Bill Crawford, the association’s president. “Nonetheless, I applaud him for finally, two years later, acknowledging that there’s an issue.”

City Councilman Bob Littlefield, who has criticized Lane’s handling of problems in the district, said he’s glad the mayor is “finally acknowledging what we’ve known all along, that the bar district is running amok and is a dangerous place.”

Meetings aren’t necessary because it’s already clear what needs to be done in the district, he said.

“I have said for years we don’t enforce the rules down there,” Littlefield said. “We need more police presence, and what we really need is to start pulling the conditional-use permits of the bad-actor bars. That was the mechanism that was supposed to keep these guys in line.”

The stabbing took place after some people were asked to leave the bar, police said.

Earlier this week, officers questioned a possible suspect in the stabbing, but he later was released pending further investigation, police said.

As of Friday, no further arrests had been made.

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