DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia has made an urgent appeal to City Council to limit the hours of operation of strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses.
“This is an issue on which I need the help of the council. It puts people’s lives in danger, ”Garcia told council members at a meeting of the public safety committee on Monday.
READ MORE: Two North Texas men charged with violating the Capitol in January
Garcia says corporate crime is sapping city resources, affecting police response across the city. He asks the city to demand the closure of approved sex shops from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
According to data presented by the police department, that is when 76% of violent crime in businesses took place this year. This is also when police and firefighters are most likely to be called in to respond.
“The truth is, when you pull resources to deal with it, you take them from across town,” said Cara Mendelsohn, a city council member, who put forward a motion to send the proposal to city council at full for a vote.
With committee approval, the measure is now expected to be voted on next month.
In recent years, the police service has made efforts to improve response times as the number of enforcement officers has declined.
A few dozen companies, according to the chief, are mobilizing staff.
“We can’t have police everywhere to answer everything,” Garcia said.
READ MORE: Parents clash over critical breed theory at Fort Worth school board meeting
Fort Worth, Grand Prairie and Plano already limit the hours of operation of sexually-oriented businesses within their city limits to at least five hours a day.
“We have to be careful what we do,” said board member Omar Narvaez.
Closing businesses is not an option and even limiting their hours could lead to legal challenges, legal experts warn.
“A lot of businesses that are just sex businesses are actually engaged in fully constitutionally protected discourse. And adults at least have the right to access that speech, ”said Dale Carpenter, law professor and author at SMU.
He says the courts, however, have allowed cities to regulate sex businesses and create reasonable restrictions on them, but only to the extent that it limits side effects, like crime.
“Not because he doesn’t like speech, but because he doesn’t like the crime associated with speech,” Carpenter explained.
Repeatedly during Monday’s meeting, Chief Garcia said the proposal had nothing to do with the sexual nature of the business, but with data showing its impact on crime.
NO MORE NEWS: First case of Omicron variant reported in Denton County
“This is a great example of what we need to continue reducing violent crime in our city,” he said.