LIMA — To curb gun violence, Lima City Council Safety Services Committee has begun deliberations on how to best give law enforcement additional tools to stop large gatherings from turning into epicenters of violent crime.
In the last decade, Councilor Derry Glenn estimates that 15 shooting deaths, eight in his extended family alone, stemmed directly from such large gatherings. As Glenn explained, young people will often hold large parties late into the night at certain properties to skirt enforcement of drinking age restrictions, and many of them come armed due to safety concerns. But the combination of youth, liquor and guns without security or supervision can often result in violence.
One of the more glaring examples of such activity was the shooting death of 23-year-old Carrington Lott. During a large Independence Day gathering at the United Auto Workers hall in 2018, Lott was killed and six others were wounded from gunfire.
To curb such behavior, council is considering how to regulate such practices by establishing some sort of permit program that would give law enforcement information on such gatherings, defined primarily as parties at commercial rental halls with over 50 participants. Those failing to follow the proper procedures could find themselves with a $250 fine.
“I want the authority for the police officers to go in there and shut them down,” Glenn said.
But as committee examined the first draft of legislation Tuesday night, they found the proposed ordinance needed a rework and a little more teeth. Councilor Sam McLean pointed out that the first draft of the legislation went primarily after event organizers, but he would like to extend the legislation to also hold business owners accountable for approving what kind of gatherings are held at their venues.
“(Property owners) are responsible. When that kid walks into your building, they should know it’s a safe zone,” Glenn said.
Furthermore, councilors agreed that a $250 fine isn’t high enough, especially if event organizers are charging admittance fees.
Glenn said he knows of four locations in his ward where such parties are taking place, and that one such venue destroyed the peace of an entire neighborhood. Ward residents will often call Glenn late at night to ask the councilor to get party-goers to move their cars from blocking other residents’ driveways.
“I’m glad we’re stepping up to the place to see what we can do,” Glenn said. “This is something that we’ve talked about for years.”
The committee motioned to ask the city’s law department to take another look at the ordinance’s language to add tweaks where necessary and provide a clean copy to council.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.