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Dallas police push for sexually oriented businesses to close at 2 a.m. to curb crime

A car whizzes past an abandoned yellow building, which used to be King's Cabaret, a former strip club in Dallas.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA
King's Cabaret, a former night club in Dallas, closed after two shootings in 2018.

The Dallas Police Department says the city should limit when Dallas strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses can be open.

Police say this is a public safety issue. DPD reports high crime rates in Northwest Dallas, where 39% of licensed sexually oriented businesses are located.

Last year they saw nearly 550 aggravated assaults around sex-businesses in that area. More than 40% of those occurred between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Currently the city has no rules for when sexually oriented businesses can be open.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia urged city council members Wednesday to limit the hours of operation for strip clubs and other sex businesses to end at 2 a.m. and remain closed until 6 a.m.

"Police officers can't be the answer to everything. We quite frankly are asking for the council's help," Garcia said.

District 13 council member Gay Donnell Willis said that in recent week she's received videos and complaints from residents of gunshots and speeding which she believes might be a "spillover" from the sex-businesses located about a mile from her district.

"We are stretching our police resources very thin," Willis said in support of adding closing hours.

Council member Omar Narvaez agreed that public safety is a top priority. But he challenged other council members to consider the residents who benefit economically from such businesses.

"We're going to affect people's lives. We're going to affect people's jobs. We're going to affect economic development in this city," Narvaez said.

Narvaez, who represents the area where a majority of sex-businesses are located in Dallas, went further and said "institutional racism that has happened in this city" has led to the increasing crime rates.

Several Texas cities already have restrictions on hours of operation. In Fort Worth, sex-businesses are closed 2 a.m. to 10 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 3 a.m. to 10 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays. The exception is Friday, when they can remain open until 4 a.m. but only if the business has a valid food permit.

El Paso requires sexually oriented businesses to be closed between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. And Plano’s closing hours are 2 a.m. to 10 a.m.

DPD also says the city should raise the minimum age of sexually oriented business employees from 18 to 21, which would align with a new state law.

Chief Garcia said the department is doing their best to reduce violent crime, but adding closing hours will help save lives.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson says he intends to place the SOB item on the Jan. 26 city council agenda.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @alereports.

Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.