Fort Lauderdale Police Have Known Beach Bouncers Were "Heavy-Handed" for Years -- and Nothing Changed
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department, which recently came under scrutiny when a New Times investigation exposed how its loose off-duty detail policy has abetted bouncer violence at beach bars, has known security personnel at such establishments are too aggressive since at least 2010, according to an internal affairs investigation obtained yesterday by New Times.
In the following years, despite such warning, nothing changed -- and the problem, in fact, only seemed to get worse.
During the course of New Times' investigation, nine separate people who either experienced or witnessed bouncer-inflicted violence alleged that responding police either didn't reprimand the bar or filed a report that misrepresented events.
According to the internal affairs report, a man named Michael Kravitz went to the folkloric Elbo Room on June 8, 2010, where he "was beaten up by the bouncers, and thrown out of the bar." Kravitz called 911, but when he told the responding officer what had happened, the cop "refused" to write a report depicting the beatdown. Kravitz, the record claims, had left police "with the impression he did not want a full police report."
But actually, Kravitz wanted one so badly that he called the Fort Lauderdale Police Department the next day to complain he was beaten at the bar -- and that the cops didn't do anything. Kravitz alleged the responding officer was longtime detail cop Mark DeCarlo, but investigators say it was actually Officer Jay Smith.
Either way, Kravitz, who didn't immediately return requests for comment, was still so upset that he was mulling whether to file charges against the bouncers. (It's unclear whether that happened.)
"On a side note," investigating officer Sgt. Bill Schultz wrote in the report, "we need to keep an eye on complaints regarding the bouncers at Elbo [Room] and Dirty Blondes. It seems the bouncers may be getting a little heavy handed in recent times. I've informed my officers of the same."
The message perhaps didn't seep in deeply enough. Since March 2009, bouncers at Dirty Blondes, Exit 66, and Rock Bar have beaten at least 21 patrons in 16 separate incidents, according to a New Times report.
Excluding the now-infamous July incident, when video of Dirty Blondes' bouncers savagely beating two men went viral, only one bouncer has faced charges, court records show.
Throughout that time, despite what appears to be full knowledge that bouncers at beach establishments have a troubling propensity for violence, cops have continued to work off-duty detail at these establishments. The department pulled Dirty Blondes' off-duty officers only after the July altercation.
Off-duty work is something of a cash cow for cops. Some officers who've clocked time at these bars make as much as $600 per week doing so, one former Exit 66 manager told New Times.
New Times contacted Fort Lauderdale Police on Tuesday at noon, asking whether police changed anything following this internal investigator's report, but we haven't heard back. We will update this story when we do.
Send your story tips to the author, Terrence McCoy.