April 18, 2003

Bill Would Let Cops Patrol Bars

Change in off-duty policy proposed after slaying

By Curtis L. Taylor and Patricia Hurtado STAFF WRITERS

In the wake of the stabbing death of a bouncer killed trying to eject a smoker from a Manhattan bar, a Brooklyn politician yesterday proposed legislation that would let off-duty cops work security outside of restaurants and nightclubs.

"Off-duty officers providing neighborhoods with a police presence outside of bars and clubs is a win-win for New York," City Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn), said. "The recognized and respected uniform of the NYPD will be an especially powerful deterrent to crime, disorderly behavior and noise."

In the past, the NYPD has been unwilling to allow off-duty officers to work at bars and clubs, citing the State Alcoholic Beverage Control law, a prohibition-era code that prohibits police from being associated with the sale of alcoholic beverages.

Under the proposed legislation - supported by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association - off-duty officers would be allowed only to work outside establishments, Yassky said.

He also said security dangers will increase as the weather gets warmer and more patrons go outside to comply with the smoking ban.

The proposal follows the Sunday slaying of bouncer Dana "Shazam" Blake, who was stabbed after telling banker Jonathan Chan, 29, to put out a cigarette he was smoking inside Guernica, on Avenue B.

Chan is the son of Wing Yeung Chan, who led the Ghost Shadows, a notorious Chinatown gang, before turning government witness.

Blake, who was 6-foot-5 but known as a gentle giant, was stabbed in a leg artery during a scuffle after he told Chan to put out the cigarette.

Chan and his brother Ching Chan, 31, were arrested, with police saying they have witnesses and evidence linking them to the killing. However, Manhattan prosecutors freed the siblings early Tuesday, saying further investigation was needed to build a case.

Sources said there are no witnesses to the stabbing, despite public reports to the contrary. Sources also said that complications during surgery may have contributed to Blake's death.

The brothers have denied stabbing the bouncer. Police have been re-interviewing witnesses at the bar and searching for the weapon used to stab Blake.

Law enforcement sources say the Ghost Shadows had a stranglehold on Chinatown in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1995, Wing Yeung Chan was charged by federal prosecutors with ordering three murders. After he was indicted, he agreed to cooperate with the government against the gang's other members.