City Paper Widget

Monday, August 19, 2013

ABC Board, “The Reef” Reach Tentative Safety Agreement After Stabbing

Brian Harrison, owner/operator of “The Reef”, a bar at 2446 18th Street in Adams Morgan, and DC government authorities have reached a tentative agreement to help the bar to change its ways. DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier closed the bar after an August 10 stabbing by a member of the bar's security staff. DC liquor control authorities have prolonged the closure on the basis of possible danger to the public.

On Friday, August 16, Harrison signed an “Offer of Compromise” with the DC Attorney General's office which should allow it to re-open soon. The Offer has not yet been accepted by the ABC Board.

18th Street, Adams Morgan (Wikipedia/Michiel1972)
At a hearing that day, Harrison and Fernando Rivero, Assistant Attorney General at the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, told DC's Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board they had reached a tentative agreement about a program of improvements to the club's security staff, apparatus, and procedures. They sought Board approval so the club can reopen.

The Stabbing

According to testimony at the hearing, the member of the bar's security staff who did the stabbing was on probation for armed robbery. He allegedly held the victim in a headlock while stabbing the victim repeatedly. Testimony at the hearing also indicated the stabber had been drinking on duty, in contravention of workplace rules. Robinson said he was unaware of the employee's background, and the employee had lost his job after the incident.

A report in the Washington Post and hearing testimony indicate that this is the second instance of assault at The Reef less than three months. In addition, the Post report says that The Reef has been fined for operating outside of licensing hours and received a warning letter about serving alcohol to a minor.

The Agreement

Robinson and Rivero outlined the details of the proposed agreement. The most important component was security staff training.

“We see this as a training issue,” Rivero said.

The Reef will hire an outside company to do security training. No one will be allowed to do security there until they can certify that they've completed training. In addition, security staff will have to take refresher courses twice a year. All training must be closely documented.

“The safety of the client has always been hugely important to us,” Harrison said.

Rivero said he outlined the qualities that an outside company should have to satisfy the Board, but could not require or even recommend specific companies because of ethical considerations.

Other parts of agreement include

-- The current director of security, a college student, will be demoted. She will continue to be part of The Reef's security staff.

-- Mandatory background checks for all current security staff and future hires. Applicants with violent criminal histories will not be eligible to work on the security staff.

-- Strict guidelines, in writing, about what security people may do while on duty on the premises.

-- A formal security plan, including a map and plan of security cameras, on file with the DC government.

-- The purchase of additional security cameras and improved coverage to include the club's staircase landings, where the latest violent incident took place. (Robinson told the Board that he had bought the cameras the previous day.)

-- A plan for storage of security tapes. Tapes will be made available to the police and ABRA within 48 hours after a request.

-- Use of devices to detect false IDs (already in use, according to Robinson).

SALM has not received permission to publish the original Offer of Compromise document. 

The Offer of Compromise document is available here.

Under DC law, The Reef faced a possible maximum punishment of permanent suspension of license, plus a fine of up to $10,000.

The Reef's next appearance before the ABC Board will be at 3pm on Thursday, August 22, at the Reeves Center (U and 14th Streets). It is possible that The Reef's permission to operate will be reinstated at that time.

The August 16 meeting took place in the ABC Board hearing room at the Reeves Center.

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