THE DAY following the callous murder of D.C. police officer Brian T. Gibson, the Ibex nightclub was finally shut down by the city. Ibex, known for the tough and sometimes violent crowd it drew, was the club from which Marthell Dean, the accused slayer of Officer Gibson, was ejected early Wednesday morning. The D.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Board invoked a seldom-used provision in the D.C. Code to suspend the club's liquor license. About the same time, the city's Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs revoked Ibex's business license. Under most circumstances, the closing of a neighborhood nuisance should be cause for celebration. In Ibex's case, however, harried residents have every right to ask why it wasn't done sooner.

Demands to close the club didn't begin with the fatal shooting of a police officer. Neighbors and Ward 4 city council member Charlene Drew Jarvis have been complaining about the nightspot for years -- and with good reasons. Ibex, located near Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, has been the scene of repeated acts of violence and shootings. Neighbors have complained about loitering by drunken patrons, reported liquor sales to minors and noise and trash generated by the club's customers. In September 1995, Mrs. Jarvis asked the ABC Board not to renew the club's liquor license. The board failed to honor her request, however, just as it ignored residents who charged that the character of their neighborhood was slowly being destroyed. Mrs. Jarvis said she was "saddened that there had to be a loss of life for the board to act." It's not only sad, it's outrageous.

Residents and businesses in the vicinity of Ibex aren't the only groups in the city to be victimized by an unruly local nightspot. Other D.C. nightclubs reported as wellsprings of violence are besieging their communities as well. Neighbors have protested in those instances, too. But as with Ibex, the ABC Board seems to be dragging its feet. If officers could serve papers revoking Ibex's liquor and business licenses, what's stopping them from going after similar neighborhood nuisances? What more does it take?