In terms of enforcement, Bramlett says more roadside safety checks are in the works, but regularly patrolling the streets around the clubs isn't an option.

"We certainly have jurisdiction. We could if we wanted to," the state patrol captain says. "We tend to prioritize, putting coverage on areas where no other police agency is at — such as the interstate — and allow the places that have police, like East St. Louis, to police themselves."

East St. Louis Police Chief Lenzie Stewart did not respond to requests to discuss his department's handling of nightclub-related crime.

Still others, including Robert Haida, insist that as mayor and liquor commissioner, Parks has had unilateral authority to crack down on the most egregious offenders but has failed to do so.

"Under the current administration, in my view, there's been a lax view taken toward the operation of these clubs," the county prosecutor says. "There's little to no enforcement of laws pertaining to liquor establishments, and we've seen a substantial increase in violence as a result."

"I've made that abundantly clear to our liquor-selling operations, if we have a club that is clearly irresponsible in its behavior, we have the opportunity to shut it down as early as midnight if necessary or to shut it down for a certain time period," counters Parks. "We've typically said when we have a troubled nightclub or liquor-selling establishment, there's either been a fine or penalty or a suspension of the license."

Parks announced late last month at a meeting of the city's 70 liquor-license holders that nightclub hours would remain the same.

"When you say that these places are basically sources of violence, that's not true. The source of the violence is the drugs that people are trying to deal, and gangs," he says, explaining the decision. "And when you're trying to maximize revenue for your town along with maximizing health and safety, you don't do things that restrict revenue-producing opportunities."

Parks says there will be a few changes to the current system. Bar and club owners are now required to post a note that reads "No weapons allowed on these premises except by properly licensed persons." He also recommended that business owners increase the lighting near their entrances and parking lots and install security cameras.

"They're not actual laws," Parks concedes, "but strong, strong suggestions from the liquor commissioner."

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