The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Madison Police Department links alcohol to crime downtown.

In another display of brilliant logic, the MPD has clearly demonstrated that liquor licenses=Crime!

"Nicole DeMotto, data analyst for the MPD, said she analyzed crime data and citations starting in 2003, and research shows a strong enough correlation between the density of liquor licenses in the central district and of crime and violence in the area. Because of the high density of both these factors, DeMotto concluded that reducing the number of liquor licenses downtown would ultimately decrease the number of violent occurrences."

Nevermind that the DOWNTOWN also has the most PEOPLE. If we really wanted to cut down on violent crime, the only surefire solution is getting rid of the people. But that just doesn't seem practical to me. I think I have a better solution. See if you can pick it out of the article. Here is what people on both sides of the drinking debate have to say:

“Violence and disorder are clustered in the same locations as where there are a cluster of liquor licenses,” DeMotto said. “We also see the incidents cluster at bar time.”

Central District Capt. Mary Schauf said reported incidents spike between midnight and 3 a.m. and are particularly high at bar time.


But Marsh Shapiro, owner of the Nitty Gritty and member of the Alcohol License Review Committee, made it clear the hoard of humanity at bar time should not be blamed entirely on the taverns. “People at apartments and house parties like to be downtown to be there for the last hurrah at bar time,” Shapiro said in response. “So they go to State Street at bar time to continue their night.”

It seems to me that the problem might be that everyone is leaving the bar at the same time. Could it be that bar time itself is to blame?

22 Comments:

  • No. It's not the bar time. It's not that the cops and city just wanting to play mommy.

    It's the real problems caused by people who drink past their point of self control and cause social problems in public. Once you get rid of out of control drunks, then the collective punishment schemes (no drink specials, riot troops on Halloween, etc.) could cease.

    How come the blame doesn't fall on those causing trouble, but gets shifted to those who have to clean up the problems they leave behind?

    "With the crowds often gathering around bar time on the weekends, the incidents of battery in sector 403 often involve victims and/or assailants who are intoxicated. Research shows that in 77 percent of the battery incidents, the victim was intoxicated and in 73 percent, the assailant was intoxicated.”

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:04 PM  

  • Actually, in my recollection (from when I lived in Madison) the fights occured by the same overcrowded bars around bar time every night. Having less liquor licenses might acutally crowd even more people into the few remaining bars, thus further irritating people. Or it might just encourage them to drive to the less convenient locations, thus substituting one problem for another.
    Of course, my recollection is that a large proportion of the problems were caused by the certain types of people who think they're tough and want to prove it and that problems follow these types.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 5:27 PM  

  • Of course the main people to blame for drunkin idiots getting into fights are the drunkin idiots. I don't deny that. But when the city blames the number of liquor licenses when there are so many other factors at play I find it ridiculous. From what I've seen, most fights occur outside of Bullfeathers/Stillwaters or outside of Johnny O's/Mad Ave/Brothers at bar time. The problem there is that people hang out right outside of those bars for like an hour after bar time. They don't disperse. They make one last go at picking up that chick they've been staring at all night. They look for an after-bar. Whatever. This leads to fights. If, instead of gathering outside the bar from 2 to 3am, drunk kids dispersed from the bar AS they found an after-bar or AS they picked up that chick, there wouldn't be all that congregation and there would be fewer fights. At least that is my hypothesis and I think the city should try it out.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 6:08 PM  

  • Anonymous, your post is confusing. YOu yourself state that the problem is drunk idiots, which I concur with, but you seem to want to use that fact to justify having bar time and pervasive police.

    The problem is certainly not liquor license density. If anything they should have more bars as demand is clearly not being met.

    The problem is obviously the congregation of drunk idiots at bar tme. It is not the congregation of bars. Eliminating bar time would solve the problem of the large gathering. As is so often the case, this problem was created by government meddling in the market, and now they want to use further meddling to fix it. Dan is absolutely correct.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 6:38 PM  

  • Dan, your bar-time theory does make sense.

    Even if a lot of people just stayed until the later bartime, say 4pm, many people will be too tired to want to fight.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 6:43 PM  

  • Maybe the city could subsidize people, uh companions, to go home with the drunken idiots standing around for an hour outside of the bar after closing time. That would appease.

    Plus, they could coordinate and have maps printed up telling people that night's schedule of after partys so they don't loiter.

    They could have taxicabs lined up to take people where they have to go to ensure no one drives.

    Plus adding more bars and staying open until 4am could keep the problem people apart so they don't fight or have to see each other. And less pervasive presence of authority which can bother people.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:57 PM  

  • What we have here is a market failure. Do people want to drink more? yeah, some do, but I suggest that people have gotten good at drinking until they have no money left (i have), and they have timed it right to coincide with bar time. That is to say it is like a bunch of girls who live together falling into the same cycle; here people who drink together fall into the same cycle, but this cycle leads to evil, as opposed to the former situation, which does not. Also, they can go home and drink.

    So what we are missing here is not supply of libation, but rather of fighting. Somebody needs to construct fighting cages, put it onto a truck, and then drop it off in front of Stillwaters and other problem areas right before bar time. It will be hard to get the waivers to stand up in court if the people are drunk when they sign them, but something can be figured out. Although I would favor gladiator-style melees, one could also have people wrestle, or play contact sports like full-contact dodge-ball, (where the teams aren't divided and you can tackle the person with the ball). I think this would get rid of the crime, although it might cause more injuries, but it would allow valuable training opportunities to the kinesiology students. In addtition, it would be sweet.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:45 AM  

  • Great idea anonymous. Somebody put together some investors. Someone should definitely buy out some space and put in a 2am dodgeball space by these places. They could even charge people/drunks to come watch the drunks. It would be collegiate legend and add to the Madtown lore!

    On the other hand, anonymous @9:45pm seems to think legalized prostitution is the answer.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 5:12 PM  

  • Now I'm hoping for a really warm night so those cagers fight naked.

    And suspend the gambling laws for samhain. Yeah, baby.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:54 PM  

  • I should have taken credit for the cage match idea, I didn't want to use my name though, because I didn't want people to think I was weird. But it got confusing with all the other anonymous postings.

    Anyway, this comment will be continuing the Kuljurgis v. Noonan ongoing public policy v. alcohol freedom argument.

    more liquor licenses do equal more crime, at least, I believe it. The more people you get together and the more alcohol you make available to them, the more crime you will have. You can actually create crime that would otherwise not occur this way. By increasing alcohol flow and distribution, You draw more potential offenders and victims to one spot. They then pair off and break the law. I don't think abolishing bar time would make that big a difference, with the exception being on Halloween weekend, when you you have people feeling anonymous in costumes, and people looking to riot.

    All other nights, while it is true people wouldn't all spill out onto the streets at the same time, they would get more drunk, and there would be more drunks on the road during the morning commute. That is not to say that we shouldn't blame the offenders. We should, and we should try to accomodate the responsible drinkers. I think that is the system we have now. It ain't perfect, but, you can drink as much as you want at home if you're over 21, and you can drink publically from about 10:00am to 2:00 am. In theory, I am for letting people do what they want, but in practice, I want the protection that can only come from having rules about everything.

    By Anonymous Phil, at 10:24 AM  

  • Wow Phil, I had no idea it was you that wrote the comment about cage fighting that ended with " In addtition, it would be sweet."

    I'm not an economist so could you please explain how having more liquor licenses (thus more bars) draws more potential offenders and victims to one spot. It seems that more bars would mean more spots. The demand for bar entry/booze would not really change with fewer bars. The remaining bars would just be more crowded.

    Even is fewer licenses or earlier bar time would prevent some problem, they also curb freedome. A socieity that would trade liberty for order will lose both and deserve neither. I think bar time is a prime example. It takes away the tavern owner's right to set his hours of operations for the sake of order and the result is less order.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 12:34 PM  

  • I'm no economist either. In fact, I think Paul relies on economics too much. I also don't doubt that decreasing liquor licenses decreases crime in an area, but I do question how well it would work in downtown Madison in particular. As Danny said, it seems largely to be the patrons of certain establishments and largely at bar time. I also beleive that downtown Madison is a draw not just because of the bars, but also because of walkable location and other attractions. So while the number of drinkers would undoubtedly decrease with less bars, I think it would mainly make the remaining bars more crowded (admittedly this may make it harder to get as much alcohol). In short, any real effect of decreased drinking in this case would likely come from making the night scene less enjoyable for everyone, simply because of a small percentage cause problems. While small percentages are generally the problem leading to most rules, the solution doesn't seem worth it in this case.

    I also don't doubt the positive benefits of bar time, I just think that it may be too early in this case. Obviously most people are still interested in continuing their activities at this point, but are suddenly without anything to do. I'm not sure a later time would cause much overflow into morning traffic.

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 2:24 PM  

  • It takes away the tavern owner's right to set his hours of operations for the sake of order and the result is less order.

    Or, proper enforcement economically encourages the tavern owner to work to eliminate trouble drinkers from congregating at his establishment. Unless you interfere with that and actually reward the taverns (via more licenses, no close time, extended hours, etc.) for the problems the minority cause.

    Supply and demand in the market is actually not so simple a concept as you seem to think, when you factor in all possible causations and consequences. Just saying.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:15 PM  

  • Tavern owners are already encouraged to work to eliminate trouble drinkers from congregating at their establishments. Their bad for business. That's what bouncers are for. Taver owners do not need encouragement from "proper enforcement" of stupid laws.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 5:38 PM  

  • "avern owners are already encouraged to work to eliminate trouble drinkers from congregating at their establishments. Their bad for business. That's what bouncers are for. "

    But Dan, somebody's not doing their job if you need to call the authorities to settle the problems. Get it? Cops don't just want to pick on you. You think they get involved just to raise revenue from the ticketing? You think they want a quiet night, or an event-filled night?

    Maybe re-read the statistics and pull your head out of your utopian world. If you tackle the real problem -- the minority of drinkers who cause trouble -- then the heavy-handed "stupid" laws go away. Concentrate your efforts on solving the real problems. Until then, whine away. You'd be the first one shouting for a cop if you got your head cracked open by a drunk, I suspect. Probably go looking to sue somebody too, for not protecting you.

    In the meantime, let's just keep hoping for an extra warm night in case Phil's suggestion takes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:12 PM  

  • I think that cops should be around or called in case fights break out. I do want to, as you put it "tackle the real problem -- the minority of drinkers who cause trouble." Fighting is, and should be, against the law. That is a law that cops should enforce. I never said it wasn't. My argument is against laws that try to prevent fighting by limiting the rights of everyone, not just the people doing the fighting. My argument is that one of these attempts, bar time, is actually increasing the violence.

    And don't comment anonymously. Especially if you think you know me. I've never been in a fight in my life. Cops do sometimes give tickets to make money or to show power. If you think that is not true you are being naive. I don't think you can sue someone for not protecting you. I don't think I'd try. It's not my style at all. Not even close.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 11:56 PM  

  • "But Dan, somebody's not doing their job if you need to call the authorities to settle the problems."

    Actually, somebody IS doing their job if the authorities are called. That's what bouncers do with drunkin fighters. After they restrain them anyway. So it is working.

    By Blogger JesusIsJustAlrightWithMe, at 12:13 AM  

  • "Fighting is, and should be, against the law. That is a law that cops should enforce. I never said it wasn't. My argument is against laws that try to prevent fighting by limiting the rights of everyone, not just the people doing the fighting"
    ------
    Work with me here, Dan. Re-read those statistics. If most of the fighters are drunk and out partying, would you agree there is a correlation between the excessive drinking and the behavior? (Not for you. You're a saint for all I know. Sorry to make you defensive, though I don't think I ever implied that you cause trouble. Believe it or not, you can get your head cracked open and not be a troublemaker yourself.)

    I'm saying, excessive drinking for some people adds to social problems that the whole public has to pay for. I'm really glad you haven't yet been affected in public by the trouble drinkers. Others maybe have and want some action taken to end the problems. Better sooner than later. There is a pattern of problems at Halloween you know. Doesn't take a genius to see something needs to be done.

    If a bouncer's job is just to put the drunk person on the street, out of the establishment, then the problems become someone else's. Someone who has no incentive to make money selling these people liquor until they reach an uncontrollable state. Whether they drink at home or in the bars.

    It IS the job of police not only to respond, but also to PREVENT such out-of-control behaviors. You just seem naive, your word, if you think that keeping the bars open all night is going to magically solve the problems that the police are called in to prevent. What incentive does that give drinkers, owners, or the responsible drinkers to moderate their behaviors?

    Again: "Unless you interfere and actually reward the taverns (via more licenses, no close time, extended hours, etc.) for the problems the minority cause. Supply and demand in the market is actually not so simple a concept as you seem to think, when you factor in all possible causations and consequences. Just saying."


    As soon as you eliminate the true problem, the out of control behavior caused by ___________ (fill in the blank with what you think), then the "stupid laws" become unnecessary. What don't you get? I'm sure you're smart and responsible and all, but sometimes the innocent have their rights curtailed because of the behavior of others.

    Think about responsible recreational drug users whose activities are not only curtailed but prohibited by the law because some people can't act responsibly. Think about the innocent civilians who pay the price when others around them act irrationally, forcing collective punishment. Etc, etc.

    Sorry, but people wanting a few extra hours of drinking out, crusading in the name of public safety, just doesn't move me. This is obviously your crusade, but in the real world, it's rather laughable.

    Taxpayers don't like paying to babysit out of control drinkers. Year after year on Halloween. Maybe if the bar owners, who make money right?, paid for private security for the confrontations in and out of their place, even walked everybody home and tucked them in for the night, you'd have less restrictive laws.

    Until then, I'm afraid you'll just have to learn to deal with it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:06 AM  

  • I never said there isn't a correlation between drinking and fighting. Of course there is. I am not arguing that there is not. What am arguing is that there is ALSO a correlation between bar time and fighting that I think is at least as significant. And I think you should stop with the "what don't you get?" kind of comments. I think what we have here is a difference of opinion regarding the best way to cut down on drunk violence. It's not that I "don't get it." I just think you are wrong. You seem to think that I am in favor of fighting or at the very least that I don't want to prevent fighting if it curbs anyone else's freedom. This is not the case. My argument is that extending bar time would cut down on the drunken fighting. As would increasing (or at leat not decreasing) liquor licenses. You may disagree with me about the best strategy but you have no evidence that your strategy is better than mine because mine has never been tried. So really this is not a matter of me not getting something.

    I'm curious why you mentioned recreational drug users. That is probably the best contemporary example of a law (I mostly mean criminizing marajuana here) being passed that increases the evils that go along with it rather than decreasing them.

    And also, just saying htat taxpayers don't like to pay to babysit drunk kids does nothing to support your argument. We both seem to advocate a system that we think would cut down on the amount od policework that would need to be done. So I'm trying to help the tax payers as much as you are. Do tax payers like to pay their legislators to pass extra laws that will have no affect? I don't think so.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 10:51 AM  

  • "My argument is that extending bar time would cut down on the drunken fighting. As would increasing (or at leat not decreasing) liquor licenses."
    -------
    This is where we disagree. I'll say no more after this response.

    Sorry for saying you just don't get it; apparently you have thought this over, considered studies and people's real life behaviors, and still hold this view. Many people think otherwise. I suspect yours may be a minority view overall.

    Personally, I think it's too unrealistic and risky to even be tried. More places to drink and for a longer time period will eliminate the problems and not create newer, bigger ones? Something about the Learned Hand analysis suggests city officials might not want to go there.

    I really did think you were kidding or hadn't thought it out fully.

    "And also, just saying that taxpayers don't like to pay to babysit drunk kids does nothing to support your argument." It bolsters the argument of working to prevent or eliminate problems. I bet most people wouldn't care if or where students drank all night if they didn't need to call in municipal employees when things get out of hand.

    "I'm curious why you mentioned recreational drug users." Alcohol is a drug, though much less regulated than others. It seemed a relevant example, here, of how society accepts limits on some personal choices via the law.

    Thing is, I wish we had a utopian world too. Personal freedom for all. We don't and thus we can't. Again, I think if we really put the blame where it lies, and eliminated problems, everyone would be freer in the long run. Out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:13 PM  

  • So I googled the issue. Basically, the evidence is spotty or not existent that a later last call does much harm or good (although most instances involved moving to 2am as the later bar time).
    One indisputable point was that later last calls drove up enforcement costs because greater numbers of police were needed later into the evening.

    http://www.azcentral.com/community/scottsdale/articles/1022sr-barclosing22Z8.html

    http://www.azcentral.com/specials/special21/articles/0304bartime04.html

    http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/LawAndPolicy.html

    By Anonymous Scott H, at 1:21 PM  

  • Danny,

    when I said "spot" I meant the State Street Area.

    As far as to your quote about freedom v. order, I find it unrigorous. Surely you would not like to live in a world with all freedom and no order. YEAH RULES!

    By Anonymous Phil, at 5:54 PM  

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