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'It can't be the Wild West' | Dallas police propose new city ordinance cracking down on event promoters who don't get proper permits

DPD wants anyone hosting events with 100 or more people to register with the city and submit safety plans -- or be fined. The hope is to hold promoters accountable.

DALLAS — After back-to-back mass shootings at events held without permits within the City of Dallas this spring, the Dallas Police Department proposed a new plan on Monday that would require the promoters of any event with 100 or more attendees to not just acquire a permit, but to submit a safety plan as well.

On Saturday, March 19, at least 10 people -- all aged between 15 and 21 years old -- were injured after a shooting at a spring break party hosted at the private events venue The Space in southern Dallas. 

Two weeks later on Saturday, April 2, 16 people were injured -- including one victim as young as 13 years old -- and another was killed when gunfire rang out at a trail ride and concert hosted at a church-owned property in rural southern Dallas.

In response to those shootings, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia promised changes to the way his department handles events held without proper city-issued permitting. At a City Hall gathering of Dallas' Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, the public got its first glimpse of those new plans via a proposed ordinance that police said aims to crack down on promoters who don’t get the proper permits for their events.

Shared in a presentation by DPD assistant chief Mike Igo, the new plan, which remains in its preliminary stages, would require any promoter hosting large events of 100 or more people to register their event with the city and present a safety plan for their attendees, among other requirements.

Violators of this draft ordinance would be fined anywhere ranging from $500 to $2,000, per the presentation.

"In addition, the draft that has built into it where the venue, the operator and the owner be held liable," Igo said.

Promoters found in violation of the ordinance would also be required to cover the costs of an emergency response should DPD or Dallas Fire Rescue be called in to assist a call related to their event.

"Hopefully this ordinance will let promoters know that we want events to happen in Dallas and people to have friendly entertainment," Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said after the presentation concluded. "But it can’t be the Wild West -- it just can't."

Some Dallas City Council members, however, raised concerns about the proposal, which DPD said it crafted with the help of various neighborhood organizations, among them the Deep Ellum Foundation.

"I'm all for making our events safe," said Dallas City Council member Jesse Moreno. "But I want to make sure we’re not burdening the promoters."

One concern voiced during Igo's presentation involved churches, nonprofits and businesses that regularly host events with crowds of 100 or more people on their property. In those cases, businesses would be asked to submit a general safety plan and provide the city with a calendar of events -- but they would not be required to submit a new permit request for every event hosted on their watch.

"We need to let promoters know they are going to be on the hook for what happens at their events," Mayor Johnson said. "It’s not that you just have the event and whatever happens happens."