Bar scene can be rowdy, locals say
VAIL – David Dean thinks that police and bar bouncers should keep a closer eye on the fights that break out both inside and outside Vail bars. Dean, Vail resident for three years, usually tolerates the violence, but sometimes it concerns him, he said. “It bothers me when you just want to go out with your girl and a fight breaks out,” Dean said. Assaults, harassment and other criminal behavior are an unpleasant part of nightlife in Vail bars, local residents like Dean say. Police ticketed and arrested more belligerent bar patrons in 2006 than in 2005 thanks in part to a program where bar owners have cooperated with police to report crimes in bars, said Detective Sgt. Craig Bettis of the Vail Police Department. The 2002 Halloween beating death of 36-year-old Cody Wieland in Breckenridge shocked Vail Police and prompted them to start the Safe Bar Program in 2005, Bettis said. That year, police investigated 27 reports of crime in Vail bars, and reports increased to 33 in 2006. Those crimes included assault, disorderly conduct and trespassing, he said. Crimes occurred most often at the Sandbar, which had eight reports in 2005 and 14 in 2006, Bettis said. Those crimes often occurred during a weekly promotion called “White Trash Wednesday,” when the Sandbar serves cheap beer, he said. Police increased their presence at the Sandbar and asked the bar to hire extra security to help prevent crime, Bettis said. Police have gone “above and beyond” in helping the Sandbar quell the crime, said Dan Van Brummelen, general manager at the Sandbar. He described business at the Sandbar this season as “a real tough winter.””It seems like people drink more and more and more,” Van Brummelen said. “I drank in high school and in college, but it just seems like more and more.” Van Brummelen thinks that drinkers should take responsibility for themselves, he said, but Vail Police have enforced excessive alcohol service in the past. Police ticketed former Club 8150 owner Steven Kovacik for sale to an intoxicated party Oct. 27 after a severely intoxicated 38-year-old man drank there during a Jagermeister promotion, Bettis said. A woman reported the stumbling man, and police said they found him barely coherent and wearing a Jagermeister hat and carrying a Jagermeister keychain. His blood-alcohol content registered at 0.391 at the police station, Bettis said. Kovacik was arrested April 22 for failing to appear in court for the incident, said Vail Police Sgt. Dan Torgerson. Kovacik paid a $200 bond and was released, Torgerson said.Kovacik would not comment on the incident before he attended court, he said. Fights abound after bars close, and the Vail Transportation Center and Vail Village are the main battlegrounds, local residents said. Vail resident Jon Turner was waiting for a bus at the Vail Transportation Center when a man punched his friend after an argument, he said. Police came to the group’s aid but did not catch the suspect, Turner said. Dean sees some kind of altercation every time he goes to the bars at night, and he thinks the competitive nature of people who live in and visit Vail is responsible. An unbalanced ratio of men to women adds to the problem, he said. In 2000, Vail’s population consisted of 58 percent men and 42 percent women, according to the 2000 U.S. Census. Reasons for fights might include anything from to a glare to trash talking, the locals said. “Someone walks by, someone says, ‘What the hell are you wearing, you look like a gaper,'” Turner said. Where people drink more, more fights occur, Turner said. Cheap drink specials, like those at White Trash Wednesday, lead to more fights in Vail, he said. Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.