The Columbia Police and Fire Departments have teamed up to perform random compliance checks on area bars and clubs to ensure they're following state code
Four Columbia nightclubs were shut down for the evening on Saturday, and two remain closed pending further inspection after the Columbia Police Department and Fire Department teamed up to perform compliance checks over the weekend.
Two of the bars -- Group Therapy and Club Twist -- are in the Five Points section, but Police Chief Melron Kelly says this is a city-wide effort.
"We're trying to address the entire city of Columbia with all of the businesses and hospitality spots in the city," said Kelly. "It's kind of hard for that team to just go out and concentrate on one area repeatedly, so you'll see more in the future we'll go to Harbison and some of those areas in Northwest Columbia that are in the city as well."
Chief Kelly said the checks were previously planned to ensure clubs were following state code. Bars like Group Therapy and Palace II were temporarily shut down for overcrowding, while Club Twist remains closed for a blocked exit, and T & T Lounge is shut down for having combustibles stored in the electrical room. The two can reopen once they pass another inspection.
Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins says officials have zero tolerance for these violations, which are safety hazards if anything were to happen.
"They want to run for the exit, they want clog up the exit, they can get trampled over," said Jenkins. "We just want to make sure that everybody is safe just in case there is some type of emergency so they can get out, and if you've got a locked exit, obviously people can't get out."
Chief Kelly says the compliance checks will continue unannounced and believes the city has made great strides in making areas like Five Points safer. He adds this is now an opportunity for bar and club owners to help aid their efforts.
"It's a good chance for them to show their patrons that they're interested in their safety," said Kelly. "To show that they're going to go the extra mile to make sure they correct these issues as quickly as possible to reopen."
Officials say they're working hard and are open to accepting public input on how they can continue making Columbia safer.