“It wasn’t the police department who came to you saying that hair salons and barbershops are the main problems in the city, and we need to regulate their hours,” said Danny Nichols, deputy chief of police at the Paterson Police Department.
During the last few weeks much of the discussion or credibility added to the business curfew sponsored by Andre Sayegh, the council president, centered around the idea that the police wanted this resolution in order to crackdown on trouble making businesses in what are called “hotspot” locations, areas of the city known for heavy criminal activity.
“Our police are actually asking for this,” said Sayegh, two weeks ago, when introducing the resolution. Sayegh admitted that it was not the police who asked for the business curfew for these two specific types of business, rather it was Ruby Cotton, the 4th Ward councilwoman, who had a conversation with William Fraher, the chief of police, and came away with the idea that regulating hours for these troublesome businesses would improve the quality of life in the city.
“The less amount of people that are hanging out in a hotspot area late at night” with “alcohol” and “drugs” and “weapons” – “the less of that happens the happier we are,” said Nichols. He said, when there is a barbershop open late at night, when there are a large number of people inside drinking and playing dominos it doesn’t help the situation.
Ken McDaniel, councilman at-large, who has always been against the business curfew, asked the deputy chief whether the resolution, which does nothing but “prevent business activity” after a certain hour, would help in curbing crowds and public drinking. McDaniel stated that the ordinance does not address these latter issues, but only regulates business hours.
During the initial discussion on the regulation, many council members pointed out that the resolution would not do anything to prevent store owners from being inside their shops with locked doors, drinking, smoking, or playing games, after the clock hits the set closing time.
“If you’re saying to me that,” responded Nichols, “You can’t cut hair after 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock, but you can sit in there and drink alcohol and play dominos, then it would have zero effect on what we’re doing.”
Rigo Rodriguez, councilman at-large, said the resolution would “put a dent” in the profit of businesses owners and possibly reduce their ability to feed their families and pay their rents. “Is there any other approach,” asked Rodriguez, “to diminish these hangouts.” Rodriguez mentioned streets that did not have barbershops or salons where people were hanging outside drinking and smoking marijuana late at night.
Glenn Brown, the public safety director, told the council he wanted a strong resolution with stringent fines that would discourage violators, he said, “Give us something that has some teeth in it.”
Brown stated that some liquor stores in the city, are illegally running bars in the background; when asked, why he doesn’t go after them, the director said, “I don’t have the people.” It is unclear how the department will enforce the new resolution considering it lacks the personnel to enforce older ones.
“I don’t think there should be 24 hour shops,” said Anthony Davis, the 1st Ward councilman, who wants a general business curfew for every shop in the city. Davis said, let the business come here and “apply for a license, and if it’s a hotspot, we don’t grant them.” He says, by licensing businesses, good shops, to remain open late at night the city could, “make some money by licensing.”
Although Nichols distanced his department from the regulation, it was clear from Brown’s request that the resolution does indeed have the blessings of the police.
“I want to see a first step of regulating hours of operation for barbershops,” said Sayegh. And “then a general business curfew.”