This is one of those stories where it can be seen either as a sad commentary on urban America or a hopeful spot in the American job market. The Newark, New Jersey City Government approved a new law requiring small restaurants in the city to have an armed guard on the premises, during the evening hours. This comes in the wake of a drive-by shooting at a Newark restaurant where an off-duty police officer was killed.
According to the article on Reuters, any restaurant serving fifteen people or less must hire armed security or close by ten p.m. This is referring to the small, walk-in restaurants that one city official termed a haven from criminal activity.
One business owner complained that it is unfair and would put him out of business. He noted his restaurant is close to a hospital and as such he gets law abiding employees from the hospital who have at most a half hour to eat.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if the smaller restaurants hire off-duty cops or private rental cops. With all the small restaurants this may pose as an increase in hiring but will hardly alter Newark's struggling economy. As for conducting background checks on new hires, I would think this a good idea. Otherwise, it's a matter of time before we learn that some of the armed security hired have their own criminal records. This is not to accuse the hiring practices in Newark. This is just the law of averages anymore. Even public service groups and state governments learn they have hired convicted felons and sex offenders. Scandals abound with promises to amend their hiring and conduct more thorough background checks. And more importantly, actually read the background check, before they hire.
So the new armed security force is both a comment on urban living and a burden on the small business guy. But, hey, if it's that dangerous then this is literally the cost of doing business. In all, having armed security is not the worst idea. We shall see if it deters crime or contributes to the violence. If we see headlines where there are shootouts in the local doughnut shop or pizza by the slice parlor we will pretty much have our answer.
But then to illustrate how the security guard hiring may be almost a good idea, in Los Angeles there is an amazing delicatessen...Langers. It has been here for decades. It is located just off of MacArthur Park, yes that MacArthur Park. Although it has been a long time, as the song goes, that the worst thing happening is when someone left their cake out in the rain. In fact, when they had to dredge the lake or pond within the park, a few years ago, they discovered several bodies and a load of drugs that had been tossed presumably when the police arrived on the scene for periodic shakedowns. It's also the place where if you are an undocumented worker or illegal immigrant, choose your term, you can go for a couple hundred bucks and buy from one of the illegal street vendors in MacArthur Park a nifty Identity packet, replete with driver's license, birth certificate, and social security card. All bogus, of course. So these days it's that kind of neighborhood.
But then here is Langer's. Langer's is best known for its amazing pastrami sandwich on double baked rye bread. The best in the city and maybe the country. Langer's used to be open twenty-four hours seven days a week. Go at midnight and the place was bustling with customers. As the neighborhood, once semi-prestigious and old Los Angeles, started to deteriorate, you had weirdness on the streets but not that much danger. If you wanted a pastrami sandwich, then you just blew by the guy on the sidewalk who was busy talking to himself and went into the spacious digs and sat down. Then crime, shootings, robberies, and all that. Just going back to your car was an adventure in life. So then Langer's started closing its doors at Seven p.m. Still crime, craziness. Those visiting the restaurants were not so much diners as targets. So now Langer's closes at four in the afternoon.
A sad story of urban life. Oh, they did try hiring security. The question is what twelve dollar an hour rent a cop is about to get in the way of a half dozen armed gang bangers? Not many. Newark may end up learning the Langer's lesson. What a drag.