HAMMOND | The Hammond City Council is questioning whether the AquaVor nightclub will hire extra security officers following reports of a fight at the club in March.
The council sent a letter to AquaVor's owners requesting information on the number of security officers currently staffed at the club and details on how future issues will be handled if they arise.
“This is a privately-owned night club. I think it is AquaVor that needs to get more security,” Councilman Homero “Chico” Hinojosa, D-6th, said.
Councilman Anthony Higgs, D-3rd, originally asked the council to require more police presence during the hours AquaVor is open, noting downtown events and the nearby Hammond Academy of Science and Technology. But Higgs' motion failed at the council's April 8 meeting.
Instead, council members approved sending the club's owners a letter requesting the staffing information and asking if extra security guards would work at the club.
AquaVor owner Ray Rapchak released a statement recently calling the City Council's letter "vague" and "accusatory" and said it lacked "any specific reason or background for the questions."
Rapchak went on to explain that AquaVor provides a “significant security presence in the club,” including four off-duty police officers at the club's front door and one off-duty police officer inside the club during operating hours. AquaVor also staffs between 12 to 14 security guards inside the club, according to the statement.
“There is no indication or any incident of which the management of AquaVor is aware that would suggest this security detail is inadequate,” according to Rapchak. “Although it has been reported recently that there have been a significant number of calls to the police involving AquaVor, we are not aware of any such calls and have requested a copy of these supposed calls from the police department, so we can ascertain the validity of the recent reports.”
Police responded to the club, 5260 Hohman Ave., early March 30 on reports of a fight. Three Hammond residents were arrested in the incident.
So far, police have been called to the club 37 times this year, according to statistics provided by the Hammond Police Department through April 3. That's compared to the 49 calls for service received in 2012. Of the police calls this year, five were characterized as fights, including the March 30 incident, according to police data.
In bringing up the club to fellow council members, Higgs said he wanted to put more police near the area to ensure situations were handled.
“The number of phone calls police had to respond to in a three-month period is unbelievable,” Higgs said.
Hinojosa referred to a report that 12 squad cars responded to the fight in late March.
“I believe something could have been prevented inside, with security inside. Maybe we wouldn't have to have 12 squad cars going over there, and it could have been stopped inside,” Hinojosa said.
Separately, AquaVor co-presented a Nelly and Soulja Boy concert Friday at the Hammond Civic Center. Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller said the concert would have ample security, with the promoters paying for 25 uniformed off-duty police officers.
AquaVor opened in downtown Hammond in 2011 after a nearly $2 million investment to transform the space into a club.