Breck police, bar owners work together
Summit County Correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE ” The Breckenridge Police Department began arming its police officers with Tasers two years ago, but until this summer, no one on the force had ever had to use the stun-gun-type devices.
In the past few months, officers have deployed Tasers in three separate occasions to control uncooperative, intoxicated partiers, according to Breckenridge Assistant Police Chief Greg Morrison.
On one Thursday evening this summer, officers picked up five people off the street after the bars closed, all of whom were drunk enough for a trip to detox. Of the five, the lowest blood-alcohol level was .27, Morrison said.
Another incident occurred when three bar-hoppers were walking home and stopped to urinate in a man’s yard on French Street. When the resident yelled at the men to leave, they confronted him and a fight ensued. Police arrested two of those men.
“We noticed that our calls for service were relatively high this summer,” Morrison said. “Usually there’s quite a disparity between the summer and winter season and this year we didn’t see as much of a drop off.”
Incidents like these, and the increased calls, spurred Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman and Morrison to meet twice with the bar owners in town to discussi possible solutions to some of the issues.
Mark Burke, owner of Burke and Riley’s Irish Pub and Liquid Lounge, both located in La Cima Mall, said he hadn’t even heard about some of the problems occurring after the bars close.
“I didn’t realize that it traveled to the neighborhoods quite as much as (police) said it does, so that was kind of surprise,” Burke said.
Burke has already started making changes to cut down on the late-night revelry. He began serving free chicken wings at the Liquid Lounge starting after 11 p.m. so bar-goers will have a late-night food option, and has provided his doormen with walkie-talkies to communicate between the two establishments he owns. That way, if someone gets kicked out of one place, security knows not to let that person in at the other bar.
He’s also talked to his staff about keeping an eye on patrons, using good judgment and being extra careful not to overserve anyone.
Burke thinks the town could help by operating a late-night bus service to prevent people from causing trouble as they walk home after closing time.
“This is a resort community that gives out liquor licenses that allow bars to stay open until 2 a.m., but the buses stop running at 1,” Burke said.
Also, it’s very difficult to rely on catching a cab because Summit County only has one taxi service and wait times can be long, Burke added.
Breck’s inter-town Free Ride service ends at midnight and the last Summit Stage bus from Breckenridge to Frisco runs at 1 a.m., according to bus schedules.
Holman acknowledges that late-night bus service could help, but said many factors would need to be considered along with that, such as determining if it’s worth the cost of staffing if only a few people actually use the service.
Another complication is that popular local neighborhoods like Breck Terrace, Wellington, Boreas Pass and Warrior’s Mark are all served by different buses, meaning it would be difficult to have just one route run extended hours.
Late-nights bus service might be something the town council will need to address in the future if there is community demand for it, Holman said.
Anthony Bulfin, the new owner of Nappertandy’s Irish Pub, formerly Salt Creek Saloon, said bar owners are also discussing the possibility of a radio link, or other form of communication, between local late-night establishments so that if an unruly patron is asked to leave one bar, no one else will let that person in either, forcing him, or her, to go home.
“That’s something that we were overwhelmingly positive about in the meeting,” Bulfin said.
Both police and bar owners said the solution is a work-in-progress and the two groups will continue to meet on a monthly basis.
Bar owners credited the police department for approaching the situation in a proactive and positive manner.
“I guess I just appreciated being involved in the problem solving rather being told what to do,” said Leslie Day, owner of the Motherloaded Tavern.