Despite the pleas of its owner, a pay phone was ordered removed from Las Vegas Boulevard on Wednesday as a means of dealing with alleged drug traffic in a downtown neighborhood.
The Las Vegas City Council unanimously revoked the business license for the pay phone at 1701 Las Vegas Blvd. South, citing the testimony of neighbors and a police officer that the phone was used to connect drug dealers to buyers.
The phone is owned by Custom Communications Network, which operates more than 150 such phones in the city.
It's a tough business to be in, said company President Ilbert Mednicoff -- phones are vandalized or stolen, and he's competing with mobile phones.
Rather than remove the phone, he said, it should be used to target suspected illegal activity. He told the council he can track any number dialed on the phone and block suspect numbers.
"Do we want to cure this? Yes, we can cure this," Mednicoff said. "These things are smart phones. I can make it do whatever we want it to do."
All the council wanted it to do was disappear.
"It isn't that easy," countered Councilman Steve Wolfson. "It would be real nice if we had a bunch of extra police officers with a lot of time on their hands."
Since that kind of manpower isn't available for monitoring, "the easier solution is to remove the instrumentality," he said.
There are other public phones at that corner, which is the intersection of Las Vegas and Oakey boulevards, but they're lit and better monitored, the council noted. The phone at issue is in front of an automotive store that's closed at night and the store owner wants it gone.
"These neighbors want it out of there, and I feel adamant that they should get what they want," said Mayor Pro Tem Gary Reese.
Contact reporter Alan Choate at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-229-6435.