BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A proposed ordinance to keep bars in Baton Rouge open two hours was denied Wednesday evening.
The ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Lamont Cole, would have allowed bars to stay open until 4 a.m. However, the item was removed from the day's agenda. It's unclear if the item will be debated at future metro council meetings.
If Cole's proposed ordinance is passed, bar owners would have to apply to the East Baton Rouge Alcoholic Beverage and Control Board for a permit to extend their hours.
The permit would cost $750 per year and would have to be renewed annually. The control board would also have the power to deny permits for extended hours.
Cole told the Baton Rouge Business Report he is proposing the measure for the city to keep up with modern times.
"When we discuss moving our city forward into the 21st century, we have to think about things that attract people to our city," Cole told the business magazine. "The hospitality and entertainment industry can all be enhanced by having a nightlife that extends beyond 2 a.m."
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul opposes Cole's proposition, saying if approved, it will put a strain on his already understaffed police department.
BRPD is down by 52 officers and cannot allocate more officers to police during the proposed extended bar hours.
Bars and nightclubs accounted for 521 service calls between January and May, according to Paul. Most of the calls were to break up fights.
"With the current crime situation, it's going to be real challenging if we have to respond to calls from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.," Paul said. "I don't think it's a good strategic decision for me to support something like that right now."
The police chief also told the magazine he asked his staff to attempt to come up with a fiscal estimate on the measure before this afternoon's meeting.
Cole claims that the longer bar hours would lead to a decrease in fights, DWIs, and service calls because patrons would be leaving bars and nightclubs at different times, instead of all at once at 2 a.m.