Bar Hours Worry D.C. Police Union
Friday, December 5, 2008
The leader of the D.C. police union said yesterday he worries that police resources could be insufficient during inauguration weekend because of extended hours for clubs, bars and restaurants.
Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1, which represents D.C. officers, was critical of emergency legislation approved by the D.C. Council on Tuesday allowing establishments with liquor licenses to stay open 24 hours and to serve alcohol until 5 a.m. from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21. Baumann said public safety could be compromised.
"With our resources stretched so thin that weekend to provide security at the inauguration, we're going to be at the bare bones out in the districts," Baumann said, referring to the seven police districts whose officers respond to neighborhood crime.
Baumann said it is difficult to judge how much police presence is needed, because police have no experience with longer bar hours. Normally, bars and nightclubs can serve alcohol until 2 a.m. weekdays and until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. On Jan. 1, they can serve alcohol until 4 a.m.
"If you're going to have the bars operating beyond a capacity they're operating under usually, we don't know what kind of manpower needs we're going to have," Baumann said.
The law, proposed by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, was introduced by council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who represents the nightlife-heavy neighborhoods of Adams Morgan and Mount Pleasant.
Graham said yesterday that he spoke with aides to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) the day the measure came up for a vote and passed.
Graham said he was asked to remove nightclubs -- a category that includes clubs with nude dancing -- from the legislation out of public safety concerns. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier shut down a nightclub and a lodge earlier this year after outbreaks of violence. The council restored nightclubs to the legislation, leading Graham to vote against his own bill.
"All of the discussions [with mayoral aides] were about public safety and their appraisal of public safety," Graham said. "I assumed that was an expression of Lanier."
St. Paul, Minn., site of the Republican National Convention in September, passed an ordinance allowing longer bar hours during the gathering.
Erin Dady, the city's director of convention planning, said that 11 bars stayed open later and that extra police patrols were not required. Dady said police had no data indicating that longer bar hours are accompanied by more service calls.
"It really didn't affect our security plan as a result," she said.