NEW ORLEANS, La. (WWL-TV) – A meeting was held Monday afternoon about a new law put in place to protect people working in strip clubs from becoming victims of crimes.
Whether it’s human trafficking, drugs, or underage drinking, state law enforcement wanted to make it clear to club owners it won’t be allowed.
“This wasn’t about an agenda; this wasn’t about a closed-ended discussion. It’s all about reducing crime,” said Louisiana State Police Superintendent Mike Edmonson.
Edmonson and Alcohol Tobacco Control Commissioner Juana Lombard sat down with French Quarter strip club owners and operators to talk about the new state law barring them from hiring dancers younger than 21.
“Today’s statements were actually received better than we anticipated,” said Lombard. “They seemed to be very excited about the possibilities of the new program. More than willing to work with me, State Police, and NOPD.”
Commissioner Lombard explained she wanted to meet with businesses up front so that everyone would be on the same page. She said her agency wants to avoid stings like Operation Trick or Treat, that suspended the liquor licenses of nine French Quarter strip clubs last year.
“I think I made it clear to them today, look I’m here to work with you, I’m here to get everybody in compliance,” Lombard said. “If that does not work I do not have an issue with setting up a sting, I do not have a problem suspending a liquor license but I would prefer not to go that route.”
Edmonson said part of the discussion included a grandfather clause that clubs thought allowed them to keep dancers under 21 that were already employed. However, the new law does not allow it old dancers under 21 to stay.
“Which is why the director and I choice to give them about 45 days, to October 1, and then beginning on October 1 the director and her staff can go into these establishments and check their records,” explained Edmonson.
Officials left the Quarter hoping adult clubs will follow the new law, but left the possibility of undercover stings on the table.
Officials explained they will run regular compliance checks and if they find that an establishment is operating outside of the law they could face steep fines and a suspended liquor license.