Friday, March 25, 2011

SFPD and CMAC Get Together

Today at noon, the California Music and Culture Association (CMAC) held a luncheon with Commander Greg McEachern of the SFPD and executive director Jocelyn Kane of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission regarding issues of public safety and law enforcement within the entertainment community. For a meeting between parties who have historically been at odds with each other, it was astonishingly amicable and warm-hearted. Commander McEachern explained that he is training his officers to develop strong working relationships with nightclubs and venues in neutral times, so that when trouble does arise, a precedent has already been set for useful dialogue between them. He admitted that, when an officer consistently receives calls to a certain location, he naturally begins to think of that location as problematic, and this can be an obstacle to effective communication - and that sometimes it is, indeed, a shortsightedness on the part of the officer that causes dispute. He encouraged the venues to bring such incidents to his attention, because, he emphasized, a working relationship between the police department and the entertainment community is of paramount importance, both to the parties involved and to San Francisco at large. 

Jocelyn Kane explained the complex dynamics of neighbor relations, and how an equitable compromise is often the best way of settling conflicts over noise and petty crime (public urination being one of the foremost). Even if a compromise is slightly disappointing to all parties, it is better to share this disappointment equally than to ignore completely the demands of one party. Seniority in the neighborhood, she repeated, furnishes no privileges - residents and business owners must cooperate, with the mediation of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission and, if necessary, the SFPD, to settle any dispute that may arise. Both CMAC and the San Francisco Entertainment Commission are concerned with the prevention of the archetypal "guy who likes to fight" from doing just that. 

This meeting seems to mark the beginning of a fruitful relationship between the SFPD, the San Francisco Entertainment Commission, and the venue staff, artists and music fans that comprise the California Music and Arts Association. We have CMAC to thank for protecting the interests of the Bay Area's entertainment community, and allowing venues to keep their doors open and the music pumping.

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