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Strip club's reasoning for Pittsburgh police protection as skimpy as a G-string

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By Nafari Vanaski
Thursday, April 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Pittsburgh Police Department is a little concerned about its reputation right now — for pretty good reason.

But so is one of the city's prominent strip clubs.

Acting police Chief Regina McDonald last month decided to enforce an existing policy prohibiting off-duty police officers from working in adult entertainment establishments and other places of “disrepute.”

One of them, Blush, is fighting in court for the right to continue employing off-duty police officers to work the doors. A hearing is scheduled next week to consider the club's request for a temporary injunction.

OK. Here's the thing. There's a name for clubs that need a regular police presence. They're usually called nuisance businesses. So when a strip club files a lawsuit begging the police not to leave, it makes you wonder what's going on inside. Well, I mean besides that.

In this case, Blush considers itself a “pillar of the community.” That's right, that's what Jonathan Kamin, the strip club's lawyer, called it in an interview with the Tribune-Review.

Just curious: When you're explaining the concept of a “pillar of the community” to a child, does the term “G-string” usually come up?

Anyway, Blush says it needs police protection for the outside of the club; it uses a private security firm for the inside. I asked Kamin why the club insists on having a police presence.

“Industry standard,” he said. “(Police security) adds an extra level of security and professionalism that's important. We've had no problems for almost five decades.”

Kamin said the club is being discriminated against based on what happens on the premises. (Not a frequent flyer at such places, my guess is a lot of “broken dreams.”) He ran through a list of the organizations in Pittsburgh that enjoy police protection, including the Pirates, Penguins and the Steelers.

Considering the club pays for the security as everyone else does, Kamin feels Blush is being judged strictly on what happens inside its doors. He says that is a violation of the club's constitutional right to equal protection.

It's pretty clear why both sides are worried about their images.

McDonald didn't expound on the reason for her decision, but the department is already under investigation for its handling of off-duty assignment funds. It needs to separate itself from anything that might raise questions about its reputation.

Blush, also facing an image issue, could use someone official-looking at the door to maintain its sturdy, “pillar” status.

That would match the sturdy silver pole inside.

Nafari Vanaski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8669, or on Twitter @NafariTrib.

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