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RCSD shuts down local business, uses new power for the first time

Updated: Jul. 25, 2019 at 8:13 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Sheriff Leon Lott once said he was “jealous” of the City of Columbia’s ability to shut down problematic businesses, but today he got to use that same power.

The Richland County Sheriff’s Department shut down Club LaRoice Thursday. The city passed an ordinance allowing RCSD to take action against businesses deemed to be dangerous and a nuisance in April.

"This is the first time, ever, ever that a Richland County Sheriff has been able to padlock an establishment, the City of Columbia has been able to do it," Lott said. "The county council is now giving the sheriff the same ability the police chief has had. We are going to take advantage of it when it's necessary."

The department said it has responded to 39 different incidents in the past year. The club easily passed the six visits by law enforcement in six-month minimum required to be eligible to be shut down. However, Lott said he didn’t decide to take action until a man was shot Saturday.

“That was the last straw,” Lott said. “The families that reside near it live in constant fear. They are tired of it. I'm tired of it."

In 2018, the department announced a man pleaded guilty to illegally running a strip club out of the business.

The department said the business continued to operate despite being issued a Stop Work Order. In March, Lott said he reached out to the business in hopes of them addressing the continued incidents, but nothing changed.

Lott was nostalgic for Club LaRoice’s role in the surrounding areas many years ago. He said he used to go to events himself when the business was safe and a community-oriented establishment. He said he doesn’t know what comes next for the business but is looking at other businesses like Mi Casita off Decker Boulevard as the next place his team will shut down.

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