In the wake of a shooting in downtown Orlando that left seven injured over the weekend, changes are coming to curb the violence, which local business owners say is a good thing.
What you need to know
- After last weekend’s shooting, local police are adding checkpoints to the downtown area.
- Local businesses are happy with the change.
- Leaders still want people to come downtown and feel safe
Mayor Dyer announced Monday that access checkpoints will be set up for those wanting to head to the area this weekend.
John Sanfilippo owns several downtown bars, restaurants and music venues such as The Social, The Beachem and Aero.
“Twelve total in downtown Orlando,” he said. “We’ve been here for 27 years and we’re not going anywhere.”
His longevity in the downtown area is why he was so angry at the news of the shooting, which happened seven yards from his businesses.
“Well, it’s gut-wrenching, isn’t it?” He said, “I mean, nobody wants to hear a riot anywhere, especially on your doorstep.
Sanfilippo said he’s glad to hear the city and Orlando police are taking action. The current plan is to bring six access checkpoints — which will help control who goes in and out of the downtown area — to the area this weekend.
One of them goes outside many San Felipe businesses.
“This is going to be an added protection to what’s being done to keep bad things coming downtown,” he said. 20,000 to 30,000 people want to go out in one night is a good time, and one or two people can’t get in the way of what we’re doing here.
City officials said the same access checkpoints were used three times — for New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo.
“They set up their fence, and that’s a fun point and people just go right there, they don’t even think twice about it,” San Felipe said. They basically have transmitters at every exit and tell people. , ‘Hey, you have to go through the middle.’ They have dogs that want anything that doesn’t go into downtown Orlando, and 99% of people walk right in without even thinking about it.
Orlando officials are supporting local businesses with the SAFE Grant program – which pays 50% of the cost – up to $10,000 if approved – for security improvements in metal detectors and security cameras.
Sanfilippo said he takes his own precautions for his businesses, alerting customers and using security cameras. He hopes businesses and the city can make people feel safer when they visit the area on weekends.
“They need to have a level of comfort and they need to feel safe being in downtown Orlando,” Sanfilippo said.
Overall, he said, he feels Downtown Orlando is still a very safe place to visit.