Saloon owners should take responsibility
By BILL MEGO email@example.com November 6, 2012 11:14PM
Heather Eidson/Staff Photographer
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:20AM
Clearly, there are plenty of people who don’t agree with me regarding Naperville’s late night bar problems. In fact, my mail was about even on the matter. Although I have no way of telling for certain, there did not appear to be any letters from young people who actually frequent the bars late at night. That’s too bad.
A couple of letters from men in law enforcement made similar points. One was that without an “enhanced police presence” downtown there would be many more violent disturbances, especially when the bars are closing.
Another point was that, because the police have law enforcement powers granted to them by the city, and bouncers do not, they are much more effective in preventing fights. Perhaps, but I will point out that four young men recently had to be arrested for violence against the police, one after being “tased.” So the mere presence of the police clearly wasn’t enough, and it looks to me as though respect for such authority is declining.
A third point made by one writer was that I was wrong to suggest that downtown patrols diminish the amount of police protection our neighborhoods enjoy. He said that the police in the bars, and presumably the firefighters as well, are off duty officers being paid overtime, not the men and women who would normally be on patrol.
Well, I don’t doubt for a minute that trained officers are more effective than bouncers, and that an enhanced presence is necessary to deal with an increase in the number of disturbances.
But that doesn’t address why there is any violence at all, much less why things look like they’re getting out of hand.
Are we saying that if we license a bar downtown we are automatically accepting the inevitability of street fighting, knifings, and property damage? If so, why on earth do it?
There are obviously plenty of bar owners who can make a good living by simply providing a pleasant environment where people can relax and socialize. I don’t know about you, but when I think of a Naperville bar I think of a happy place like Cheers, not the Red Eye Saloon in some Kansas cow town where tough guys get thrown through plate glass windows.
If a bar is so rough that the bar’s own staff cannot contain the violence, then I question why we even allow it to do business here. If it creates an environment to which overly aggressive young men from out of town are attracted so they can carouse and fight, and if the only way you can feel safe enjoying a cocktail in such a place is to have uniformed officers giving everybody the evil eye with one hand on their Tasers, then who needs it?
What is our message? “Come to Naperville where our late night phalanx of armed police, attack dogs, and video cameras will make you feel safe and secure.” Perhaps I’ve become cynical, but I suspect this whole problem, including the overcrowding issue, is the result of one or more owners wanting to maximize profits, knowing that the taxpayers will deal with the consequences.
It’s not the bar owners, after all, who have to pay the overtime and all the other expenses that result. It’s an 80-year-old widow and a young family with a couple of kids in kindergarten, people who should not have to.
So before we add even more police, make it illegal to sit in a parked car, or make that probable cause to search that car for alcohol or drugs, let’s ask the bar owners to take some responsibility for the trouble they, not the property tax-paying public, are causing. Clean up your act, guys, or take it to another town.