TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - We've seen your comments and fielded your questions regarding a Terre Haute ordinance.
News 10's Heather Good spoke with a man earlier this week who claims he was wrongly cited for not having a dance permit to host his birthday party. Terre Haute Police disagree.
See the original story here.
Many people have commented on the story comparing the city and ordinance to the movie Footloose. Terre Haute Police Chief John Plasse says those comparisons are misguided and the rule is keeping people safe.
The rule was first presented by City Councilman Karrum Nasser. The ordinance went into effect last year. The goal was to end violence at parties.
Chief Plasse recalls five shootings at the start of the Indiana State University school year when three people were shot.
"Once we enacted this we had zero shootings, zero people shot. So, I guarantee we prevented someone from being shot or even killed."
Chief Plasse reiterates the issue addressed by Sergeant Denzil Lewis in our earlier report. He says people, sometimes from out of town, would come to Terre Haute and rent out an empty property to host a party. They would then charge people admission. Chief Plasse says these parties would lead to violence because there was no plan in place to keep people safe and the party hosts were only interested in making money.
Councilman Nasser says, "Our job as elected officials are to give public safety the tools to keep citizens safe. This ordinance is another tool and the data shows it's helped."
Chief Plasse adds the rules are easy to follow. Do not open the party to the public and do not charge admission without a permit.
We asked Tommy Williams if he charged people to attend his birthday party last weekend. He says he did not. He also says he did not advertise the party.
Police will not officially comment on Williams' case but clearly thought they had cause because they wrote he and his wife a ticket.
To be clear, Chief Plasse says you do not need a permit to host a private party.
"Birthday parties aren't open to the public and you don't charge admission to those so just think before you have an opinion on something that you're not clear on. Birthday parties are fine. Dance parties are fine but, when you have them open to the public and you charge admission, you have to have a permit. That's what this is for."
Chief Plasse says if you want to have a public party, that's fine, just get a permit and have a safety plan.
You can see the city code (Sec. 4-310) here.