The District is trying to get a handle on fly-by-night promoters who rent out restaurants and taverns, turn them into nightclubs and then disappear when police get involved.
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is considering asking Mayor Vince Gray to require licenses for promoters, whose actions police say contribute to violence, underage drinking and the littering of sidewalks with fliers featuring photos of half-naked women.
"We're looking at whether to license promoters so you know who they are and make them accountable for some of the things that happen," said ABC board spokeswoman Cynthia Simms.
At a roundtable discussion held by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board this summer, D.C. police Cmdr. Melvin Scott said it takes officers 30 minutes to determine who's in charge when they respond to incidents at establishments that use promoters.
"We don't know who to find. We don't know where to go because the promoter has moved on to another venue," Scott said. "They keep popping up all over the place."
Rickey Lee, marketing director for 757 Entertainment Group, said promoters are being unfairly targeted. Promoters are not trained to be security and should not be held liable for violence that can occur at their events, Lee said.
The issue came to a head on Thanksgiving weekend in the fatal shooting and stabbing of five people outside Heritage India on Dupont Circle. Heritage India violated its own security plan, failed to use metal detectors on customers as they entered and did not properly keep track of the number of patrons, according to the city.
The restaurant's liquor license was already under review at the time of the slaying for an event this summer, also hosted by Mel Productions, in which about a dozen patrons jumped and beat four other people, sending two victims to the hospital.
The District has stripped Heritage India of its liquor license, but Mel Productions, which brought in customers involved in the attacks, can move on to the next business. The alcohol board has no jurisdiction over promoters.