NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City nightlife is booming. A recent study estimates the industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs and generates nearly $750 million in local tax revenue.
But there’s a dark and dangerous side to some of these clubs. CBS2’s Marcia Kramer took a look at how the NYPD is taking action against them.
At the 114th Precinct in Astoria, CBS2 hit the road with police, hitting the streets for a Friday night MARCH operation.
MARCH is short for multi-agency response to community hotspots. When put into practice, it’s a planned raid on problematic nightclubs around the five boroughs.
Precinct commander Osvaldo Nunez directs NYPD, FDNY, and other agencies as they caravanned to the first location, Nunez told CBS2 this extreme action is the last resort to get these clubs to operate safely and within the law.
“You’re in the nightlife business. Once in a while you’re going to get a fight, but when it’s repeated and they start having serious crimes like stabbings or shootings and they’re not putting their corrective measures that we suggest in place that’s when we start looking to target them for inspections,” Deputy Inspector Nunez explained.
The first stop was Alpha Hookah Lounge on Astoria Boulevard. In the past year, there have been 39 calls to 911, 46 calls to 311, and two serious assaults.
“Man, every other day you get the cops here. There’s always some action going on,” Queens resident Galo Ortiz claimed.
One problem at the location, Alpha doesn’t serve liquor. Patrons reportedly drink before they go in.
“I live upstairs actually. This is my office and I see a lot of people here… they keep drinking in the street… they throw bottles,” local business owner Mike Aly said.
Aly shared video of a man kicking a hole in his sign.
CBS2’s cameras were not allowed in during the raid, but Marcia Kramer was able to see a potentially deadly situation.
“You can just imagine, the danger to public safety with having a hookah lounge and a bunch of open flames and an inadequate sprinkler system and a fire alarm that doesn’t work,” Nunez said.
The end result of the latest MARCH raid – the fire department officially shut Alpha Hookah Lounge down.
The caravan was then on to the next troubled location.
“It’s kind of like our Las Vegas strip without the casinos,” the deputy inspector said.
The raid headed to a club on Steinway Street called Fusion, where the noise could be heard out on the street before officers even moved in.
Another MARCH inspection by the various agencies confirmed they were well above the legal limit for noise.
“We have to strike a balance between allowing these businesses to do business and allowing the residents to enjoy their homes and live peaceful quiet lives,” Nunez added.
The NYPD says they’ve made repeated requests to Fusion to comply. On that night, a summons was issued. They were allowed to remain open, but now firmly in law enforcement’s sights.