Business owners in Ocean Springs are working to create a “culture of safety” in the wake of mass shootings

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) – As Memorial Day weekend begins, the bars and restaurants of downtown Ocean Springs are preparing for the busy nights ahead. These companies are doing so with a particular focus on the safety of their customers, less than a month after the mass shooting at The Scratch Kitchen.

“I just think that if we create a safety culture, we can maintain a safety culture,” said Kenny Williams.

Williams owns and operates Mosaic along with three other bars and restaurants in downtown Ocean Springs. He said creating a safety culture starts with making sure everyone is on the same page.

“I think we need to work better together as entrepreneurs when communicating together,” Williams said.

Over the past week, Williams met with other downtown business owners, including Bill Yockey of the Rooftop Taco and Tequila Bar. They met with city leaders and brainstormed ideas to prevent future violent incidents.

“If we ask someone to leave our area, we make sure our friends at Neon Moon or across the street at Glory Bound are contacted and that they communicate with us,” Yockey said.

“When we know someone is not where they should be or is doing something they shouldn’t, we need a way to share that communication in two ways — not just with each other, but with local law enforcement.” ‘ Williams called.

Ideally, communication is quick and easy.

“We’re going to try to find an app that we can all access so we don’t have to make seven or eight calls. You can just bring up the app and let everyone know where the problem is,” Yockey said.

Plans are also in the works for increased police presence in the city center and more street lighting.

“We asked for parking lights to be turned on around Government Street,” Yockey said. “We feel that a lot of the bad things that have happened were because of people partying in the car parks and then coming to the bars and restaurants a little further away than necessary.”

Despite the recent violent incident at The Scratch Kitchen, Williams is doing everything to ensure it’s an isolated incident.

‚ÄúThis is an extremely safe place. If you look at the data over a 10 to 20 year period, it’s a really safe place and we want to encourage people to do business in Ocean Springs,” Williams said.

Both Williams and Yockey said they use ID scanners to prevent underage entry. In addition, firearms are not permitted in stores, security guards actively monitor for firearms and take steps to prevent access to firearms.

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