Rising violence marring Vail’s nightlife
VAIL – Kori Medeiros of Eagle-Vail said fights don’t happen that often on Bridge Street when he’s at the bars there. And police shouldn’t be giving more summonses and citations to people for fighting.”It’s nice to have a little rowdiness in our mountain town,” he said.But Vail police say rowdiness is reaching alarming levels. The police and the town prosecutor are planning to intensify enforcement of assaults, disorderly conduct and trespassing around bars.”There’s going to less flexibility if you’re responsible for violence in the town of Vail, and there’s going to be more punishment,” said John Clune, the town’s prosecutor.Clune said he saw more injuries from bar fights last year than he had seen in any of his 10 years as a prosecutor in Vail.”That was a message for us that we needed to take action before the situation got out of hand,” he said.The Vail police are going to be more inclined to give a summons or citation when there’s a drinking-related incident, said Sgt. Craig Bettis. “If you get in a fight in Vail, you’ll probably have some enforcement action taken against you,” he said.
There will not be an increased patrol presence as part of the campaign, he said. Police hope the incidents will drop off after word gets around about the increased enforcement.At a liquor board meeting with bar owners and employees Thursday, town officials stressed that bars or servers could face criminal or civil charges if they over-serve patrons in their bars. And bars should call police as soon as there’s a fight, they said.Bettis said these assault, disorderly and trespass cases almost always involve drunk people, and often over-service from bars is a factor.’Fines don’t help’Sherman Blake, a visitor to Vail from Breckenridge, said he doesn’t see much of a problem with fights on Bridge Street.”The incidences are few and far between,” he said.A better solution would be to increase the police presence to prevent fights, he said. Citations will only create bad word-of-mouth among visitors to Vail.”The tourists will leave town pissed because they have huge fines,” he said. “Fines don’t help.”
Scott Douthitt, manager at the Red Lion bar, said he welcomes the campaign from the town of Vail. The staff tries to deal with any incidents, but if that doesn’t work, they call the police, he said.”People come here and think it’s Las Vegas and think they can do whatever they want,” he said.Steve Kaufman, owner of the Tap Room, said his bar has zero tolerance for fights or disorderly conduct. Maybe because of that policy, he hasn’t seen a spike in violence at his bar, he said.Nevertheless, more enforcement is a good thing, he said.”This is a resort town,” he said. “People come here to do things they don’t do in their normal daily life. On the same note, people need to take responsibility for their own actions.”Vail resident Dick Cleveland, a Vail police officer in the late ’70s and early ’80s, said the town dealt with the same types of problems with fights and disorderliness then.”You have to protect the guests as well,” he said. “There’s nothing fun about coming here to ski and getting beat up.”Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14623, or firstname.lastname@example.org.