Monday, December 8, 2008

Keeping Bars Open All Night

Ok, I hail from the City-that-Never-Sleeps and I'm used to having restaurants, bars, and clubs open all night. But I'm concerned about the DC Council's abrupt legislation authorizing them to stay open 24 hours and sell alcohol until 5am between January 17 and 21 for the inauguration. Why?

1. When legislation is enacted essentially in the middle of the night, with no public input, you can guarantee it's not the citizens of the District of Columbia who are calling the shots. The manner in which the Council passed the bill is reminiscent of the West End Library sale debacle. In this case, however, it's not a politically-connected developer that pushed it through, but the powerful restaurants and bar owners/lobby
who generously contribute to councilmember campaigns.

2. I don't live in Adams Morgan or Georgetown, so for me, personally, it is not about the loss of parking or noise. It is, however, about safety, not just in nightlife heavy areas, but my own neighborhood as well. Inauguration week is already going to be "all hands on deck" with police resources stretched incredibly thin. Now our overworked police officers will be trying to control what is predicted to be as much as a quadrupling of the District's workday population all through the night, after trying to keep order during the day. You can bet that the increased bar activity will siphon what is left of neighborhood police resources to the club zones.

The police union, which was not consulted when the DC Council extended hours,
is concerned:

"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," Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1, which represents D.C. officers, said, referring to the seven police districts whose officers respond to neighborhood crime. . . . "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."

My neighborhood had a shooting last Monday night, a murder on Wednesday, an apparent mugging Friday night, and a serious domestic dispute last night. Will police be available to respond?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not to mention, the twitter on security and safety is at a resounding pitch... who's going to be watching over the cities that contribute the vast numbers of police to be protecting DC that week?