Police keep watch on Avon bars | VailDaily.com

Police keep watch on Avon bars

Steve Lynn
Vail, CO Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyJelena Musa, left, and Kiel Ard laugh while socializing with friends May 9 at Loaded Joe's Coffeehouse and Lounge in Avon. Few crimes occur there each year and those are "just part of the business," owner Kurt Beidel said.

AVON ” Police have to be present at Agave every Saturday night or fights will occur, Avon police say.

“That’s been going on forever,” said Avon police Detective Paul Arnold.

Avon bar crime doubled in 2006 compared to 2005, according to Avon police records. Local bar owners and managers say they try to prevent crime, but sometimes crime just comes with serving alcohol.

Communities like Vail have fewer bar crimes because of their transient populations, said Avon police Chief Brian Kozak. A large portion of Avon’s population lives there year-round, he said.

Vail had 60 reported crimes in 2005 and 2006, said Detective Sgt. Craig Bettis of the Vail Police Department. During the same years, Avon had 95. In 2005, Avon’s population was 6,349 compared to Vail’s 4,589, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Web site.

That’s not to say that Avon bar crime is anywhere near that of major metropolitan area. Kozak worked as a sergeant for the police department of Mesa, Ariz., where a shooting, stabbing or homicide would occur every weekend at a local bar where rival gang members met, he said.

In a sting on the bar one weekend, Kozak and others arrested more than 70 the first night around the bar and about 50 the next night, he said.

The difference between the two cities should not detract from the plights of those victimized by bar crime in Avon, he said.

“Some of the people here locally have been seriously assaulted,” Kozak said.

Agave had one assault reported from Jan. 1 to May 1, according to Avon police records.

A man hit another 27-year-old man several times in the head with a bottle at Agave April 29, according to an Avon Police Department report. The man was “bleeding heavily” when police arrived and had three wounds in his head, the report said.

Geovany Alvarez-Nieto, 25, was later arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault, the report said.

Agave employees report crimes to police “each and every” time and if bar employees see tensions rising, they call police, Kozak said.

“They’re really good about calling us to prevent problems,” Kozak said.

Agave has a higher crime rate because employees and managers work closely with Avon police to report every incident, said owner Richard Wheelock.

Wheelock and other bar owners used to think that police were bad for business, but late in 2005, some violent crimes at Agave led Wheelock to begin working closely with Avon police, he said.

Wheelock banned people who were responsible for those incidents. Now, the majority of crimes are minor incidents, such as false identification and underage possession of alcohol, both of which Agave reports to police, Wheelock said.

Contributing to Agave’s crime rate is the conflict between Mexicans and Hondurans who often fight each other because of cultural differences, Kozak said. Agave came in first in assaults, with seven since 2005, according to Avon police records.

Mexicans and Hondurans spend time at Agave Saturday night for the club atmosphere at Agave, Wheelock said.

Differences between the two groups are immense and the rivalry strong, he said. He used an analogy involving a famous Colorado football rivalry.

If you put hundreds of Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders fans in a Mexico City bar and added alcohol and women, sparks would fly, he said.

“You think there’s going to be a fight or two every once in a while? Of course,” Wheelock said.

In 2007, only two assaults reportedly took place in Avon bars, but sometimes the trouble happens after patrons leave.

Crimes such as domestic violence and vandalism often occur on the streets and in homes after closing time, Kozak said.

Bryan Lavin was walking home to his apartment in the Tarnes complex April 25 when four men beat him up, he said, resulting in a concussion, a 3-inch gash on his forehead and a costly trip to the hospital.

“These things really do happen even though we live in a small town and there’s less crime,” Lavin said.

Lavin left his backpack and pool stick at Finnegan’s Wake after an argument with some men with whom he was playing pool, he said.

Because Lavin feared for his safety, he walked to Starbucks and called Avon Police. An officer returned to the bar to gather Lavin’s belongings, but the bar was closed, according to a police report.

The officer asked Lavin if he needed a ride home, but Lavin decided to walk, he said. Lavin thought the four men who he said assaulted him had been at the bar earlier because they left his backpack and pool stick with him, he said.

Finnegan’s Wake employees did not call police because no one was physically assaulted at the bar and the bar was not responsible for what happened to Lavin off its property, said Jeanne Drinkuth, manager at Finnegan’s Wake.

“If there’s a verbal altercation, we don’t call police,” Drinkuth said.

Finnegan’s has had six assaults since 2005, but general manager Randall Knipmeyer points out that since he began managing the bar in Oct. 2006, one assault has taken place.

Finnegan’s employees might kick out one belligerent patron if he or she is involved in a “heated incident,” he said. If employees have to boot both parties, they wait 20 minutes to release the second individual or group, he said.

Police want Bob’s Place to report crimes, said Bob Doyle, owner of Bob’s Place. Bob’s reports assaults, vandalism and people who refuse to cooperate when told to leave the bar, he said.

“We report everything,” Doyle said. “If we didn’t report everything, our numbers would be down.”

Kenny Dahlberg calls The Brass Parrot “a real locals bar” and that’s just one of the reasons fewer crimes occur there, he said.

Dahlberg, owner of The Brass Parrot, and Kent Beidel, owner of Loaded Joe’s Coffeehouse and Lounge, attribute their low crime rates to their clientele, compact quarters and their lack of tolerance for criminal behavior.

Good people work at Loaded Joe’s and they don’t serve too much to intoxicated patrons, Beidel said. The bar’s staffers are trained to diffuse situations before they get out of hand, he said.

Beidel acknowledged that a few crimes occur there each year, but said it was “just part of the business.”

The Brass Parrot holds 65, so staffers don’t have to watch 200 people each night like some other bars, Dahlberg said.

People know each other at The Brass Parrot and that’s why they don’t fight much, he said.

“You may get lippy with your buddy but you won’t get into fisticuffs,” Dahlberg said.

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.

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