Because of recent issues involving Oxford Square nightlife, Oxford Police Department leaders are working on new safety regulations.
Mangers and bar owners also recognize these problems and are willing to work with the OPD to fix them.
One of the main issues is overcrowding after closing time. Some city leaders say pushing 100 plus people out of a bar at the same time is not a safe practice. OPD Chief Joey East said this can lead to a number of safety issues.
After closing time, Ubers, taxis and other forms of transportation are trying to pick up individuals at the same time, usually in the same area.
“You have people coming out of the bar, onto the streets, and you have cars trying to figure out where to go,” East said. “It is just going to result in an accident.”
OPD officers have begun blocking off Jackson Avenue and Van Buren to decrease congestion. East suggested marking designated pick-up and drop-off locations near City Hall so people aren’t crowding the sidewalks.
OPD is waiting on approval to move forward with this plan. East said this would help with the overcrowding issue, “…but then you have people moving across the street with moving traffic, which could result in another problem.”
OPD has recently blocked off the Round Table alley. Seth Klein, manager of The Levee and The Cellar, suggested blocking off 10th Street to reduce overcrowding. Another way to reduce overcrowding is extending bar closing times.
“Having different closing times throughout the week can cause confusion for us, owners and people going,” East said. The OPD plans to extend the closing times to at least 1 a.m., and maybe later in the morning, every night to reduce confusion.
“This way, people get a chance to get a bite to eat, sober up and leave whenever they want,” he said.
He said they have spoken with owners and mangers about this possible change, and the results are about 50/50.
Klein said he would love it if closing hours were extended. He said, “…You see big cities, such as Dallas, which have bars not closing until 4 a.m. in the morning.”
East said another problem facing nightlife in Oxford is the lack of security. OPD said the ideal ratio is 50 people to one security guard. He said hiring more guards is not enough. They are trying to create a training program that all security guards must go through in order to be hired.
On the other hand, Klein thinks there is enough security to promote a safe environment.
“Last spring, we had an issue with a bouncer getting jumped,” he said. “So since then, we have hired more security, and will schedule more than we need, and throughout the night, we will cut based on how busy it is.”
To efficiently make these changes to nightlife on the Square, OPD and bar owners and managers will have to work together to make the safest environment possible.