New task force helps businesses meet city codes

The Birmingham Police Department is cracking down on city businesses. It has formed a "Business Compliance Unit." Detectives will make sure businesses are up to date on licenses and city codes and long time Birmingham businesses seem to be o.k. with the rules. Ryan O'Connor works at Black Market in Five Points. He told us, the crackdown on Birmingham businesses is a welcome one.{}"We work very hard to keep ourselves to a certain standard and make sure you know you're getting the same product and a good time every time you come in - there's other people around us mucking it up for everybody," Ryan O'Connor, Black Market said. "It doesn't work very well. It's a little upsetting."Birmingham Police now have a business compliance unit and already it's found quite a few problems. It says around 25% of businesses are out of compliance with local laws. {}Some had smoking violations, others had out of date licenses and confusion about food truck vending permits. "There were multiple violations for alcoholic beverage establishments and adult entertainment establishments," Detective Ralph Patterson, Birmingham Police said.The goal now is making sure everybody plays by the same rules."The Chief felt that in our alcoholic beverage establishments, we have had violent crimes occur in some of those establishments," Patterson said.One of the areas pinpointed is Five Points South and long-time businesses there say, they're happy all businesses will be held to the same codes."I think it's very fair," Alishandra Collins, Fuego Cantina said. "It gives us an opportunity to make sure the level field is level for all the businesses around and I think that's crucial."Officers in the new unit will make sure business owners understand the laws and if they don't meet compliance, they could face fines or jail time."We are giving them time before we actually go out and make arrests as part of our enforcement, so we are giving them time to come into compliance," Patterson said.Officers have spent the past couple months issuing warnings to businesses not in compliance. They will start writing tickets and making arrests this month.{}