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City looking into security measures Downtown after video of violent fight posted online

By Maria Garcia, MariaG@kvia.com.
Published On: Mar 11 2013 03:05:10 PM CDT
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 10:44:22 PM CST

EL PASO, Texas -

The City of El Paso is looking into security measures for the Union Plaza Entertainment District, after business owners approached City Rep. Cortney Niland following the publication of a YouTube video showing a violent fight outside the District's clubs.

"It was concerning. I know that activity goes on and I understand that. What I don't want it to do is to affect the businesses," said Niland.

The video shows two men on the street, violently punching each other with a crowd surrounding them. Niland said she's received several calls about security concerns in the area.

She said the Union Plaza business owners are paying a combined $4,000 a month for off-duty police officers.

"Should we look at doing some sort of cost sharing with these different entertainment association districts, should we look toward sixth street in Austin or Bourbon Street in New Orleans - see how they handle security in their entertainment districts or do we need to just stop and say 'we're a big Downtown now, we're starting to thrive, don't most downtowns have their own downtown patrol?" Niland said.

El Paso Police spokesman Mike Baranyay said the department already divides the city into regions and each regional command allocated resources and officers based on specific needs and security concerns.

"We do have a downtown police force...the downtown entertainment district is no different than any other entertainment district in this city or in the nation. When you have large number of people congregating in one area, the chance of altercations or potentially dangerous situations increases and then when you infuse alcohol in that situation, obviously that is another element that can increase the likelihood of violence or problems," Baranyay said.

Baranyay said he did not have recent data on fights or police calls at the Union Plaza.

City Council this week directed the CIty Manager to explore options on how to address the security concerns.  

City Rep. Steve Ortega said additional police presence may not be the answer. He wants the city to notify clubs that attract potentially violent crowds that the city and the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission will be closely monitoring any illegal behavior.

Niland said that can be part of the solution as well.

"I just want to start the dialogue now before it gets to the point where we really have a problem," Niland said.

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