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New 'Clear Bag' Policy In Place At Civic Center

Monroe, La.-- - It was the Fourth of July weekend when a 'Black Cat' party turned deadly.

Two men were shot and killed in the parking lot of the Monroe Civic Center, shocking the community.

The incident hitting especially close to home to Tyrone Dickens, who lost a family member.

"It impacted everybody it ain't just me," Dickens said. "It impacted a whole lot of people and it could have happened anywhere. It ain't just the Monroe Civic Center. Two people... whatever may happen, it could have happened anywhere.

Now city leaders have made policy changes to make sure incidents like this don't happen again.

"We have enhanced our security policy at the civic center and those of you that remember, that was the first time that occurred in some thirty years," Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo said. 

A new 'Clear-Bag' policy is now in place, so next time you go to a big event or concert, you'll have to put your personal belongings in a plastic bag. 

The bags have to be clear plastic or vinyl and not exceed 12" x 6" x 12".

They can also be one gallon bags and or small clutch purse bags that aren't larger than 4.5" by 6.5".

The policy also states that exceptions may be made for diaper bags if you have a baby, and bags that contain necessary medical items. These bags first must be inspected and approved. 

All guests and their bags will be searched before anyone enters the property for large events. 

Organizers believe these rules should help improve safety.

"Our customers are our number one priority," Civic Center Director Charles Thomas said. "We want to make sure when they enter our building that they feel safe when they come there."

Citizens and leaders both said they see the changes as beneficial to the community.

"Of course if you bring an item inside the civic center they're gonna wanna see what's inside the bag," Dickens added. "For not only the citizens' well-being, but for the police department too because as long as we work together, we'll be ok."

"It's going to be a good thing for the civic center and it's going to be a good thing for the city of Monroe and we're certainly glad we're able to do this," Thomas said.

In October other police changes were made including that no outside alcohol will be allowed and all events must end by 1 a.m. 

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