Sweeping out The Club 

The Orlando Police did not suggest that Jan Harrold, owner of The Club at Firestone, institute a "snitch rewards" program, in which patrons who provide information about drug activity on the premises are promised a cash reward. But the police condone it. "Do we think that will lead to a lot of people being turned in? No," says Capt. Ronald Rauth, the drug-enforcement division commander. "But it does send the message."

This week the club's new policy made the news on Channel 2 WESH. But it was just the latest in a long series of messages sent from the city to the club, and from the club to its patrons. At stake is The Club's existence. If one more drug arrest occurs there, the owners will be called before the city's nuisance abatement board, and the building could be forfeited under "zero tolerance" laws. More likely, the building's owner, Bridgestone/Firestone Corp., would simply evict the club.

"Indeed, Bridgestone/Firestone is shocked and outraged that such activities may have occurred," reads a letter from Charles Mitchell, the tire corporation's lawyer, to OPD. Included was a "Default Notice" to the club's owners warning of eviction if problems of drug use and indecent exposure aren't "cured."

Harrold apparently asked the police for advice on how to do this, and so Rauth complied with a list of 14 suggestions in a letter dated Feb. 18. First among them: "Stop catering to the ‘Rave' clientele."

Along with calls for more security and a 3 a.m. closing time, the letter also suggested the club "eliminate the lounges (commonly referred to as ‘chill' or ‘spin' rooms)" because they "cater to the use of illicit drugs by providing a comfortable, cool, and ‘safe' environment for patrons coming down"; ban such items as inhalers, glow sticks, backpacks and "blow pops"; eliminate the patio outside; "eliminate the sale of drinks that are heavily laced with stimulants" (i.e. caffeine); "consider initiating patron ‘patdowns' or searches at the entrances"; and "eliminate the ‘psychedelic' projections on the walls" inside because "[t]hese types of changing/swirling patterns are conducive to enhancing the experience created by drug use."

OPD warned Harrold about three separate drug arrests on the property, but only two count against him, says Rauth, because "one of the busts was one Jan Harrold brought to us."

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