Cities Weigh Earlier Bar Hours To Reduce Crime

Former U.S. Army sniper Stephen Perez was fatally shot in Boston's Theater District on April 28. (Handout image)

Former U.S. Army sniper Stephen Perez was fatally shot in Boston's Theater District on April 28. (Handout image)

BOSTON — In an effort to improve public safety days after a U.S. Army veteran was fatally shot in Boston’s Theater District, Mayor Thomas Menino is calling for certain clubs there to stagger their closing hours.

According to the Boston Herald, Menino is requesting a hearing with the city’s liquor licensing board and “the nightclubs in this area which have been the source of so many problems.”

Here’s more from Menino’s letter, which was obtained by the Herald:

By staggering the hours of operation of the alcoholic beverage licenses of these establishments on a rotating basis, we can achieve a more effective dispersal of patrons and protect the entire Theatre District.

Police responded to the Theater District fatal shooting of former Army sniper Stephen Perez, of Revere, at about 1:57 a.m. on April 28.

More from the Herald:

The move is the mayor’s latest effort to crack down on violence in the Theatre District. In November 2011 after four men were shot, Menino created a multi-agency team of inspectors to focus on inspecting nightclubs with repeated license violations.


Menino’s latest proposal in Boston’s Theater District also follows a similar effort recently pushed by Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno.

Here’s the Springfield Republican, on April 20:

… Sarno is asking the city License Commission to consider a new 1 a.m. closing hour for local bars and clubs, believing the earlier hour would enhance public safety.

Sarno’s proposal followed his earlier imposition of a 1 a.m. curfew, in which bars without a special permit can still stay open until 2 a.m., but have “to turn off music, television sets and other forms of entertainment by 1 a.m.,” according to the Republican.

The paper reported that the 1 a.m. curfew drew criticisms and legal action from bar owners in the two weeks after its imposition. When it published the April 20 report, the Republican said no crime statistics were yet available from Springfield Police.

The mayor’s office in Springfield says the proposal is pending action by the city’s license commission.

Your Thoughts?

Do you think implementing staggered or earlier bar closing hours would be an effective crime-fighting strategy for certain areas? Or do you think any negative effects on businesses and nightlife would outweigh any benefits? Let us know in the comments.

On a related note, some residents in Boston’s North End are calling for a neighborhood watch to deal with unruly late-night crowds, according to WBZ-TV. Boston Police, WBZ reports, have pledged to increased weekend patrols in the neighborhood.

5/4 Update: As the Herald and NECN report, the Boston Licensing Board says it can’t unilaterally take action on hours unless the shooting is specifically tied to one club.

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  • SomeGuyNamedMark

    Boston already has a reputation as a small town mentality city with regards to entertainment.  Closing bars earlier will be another reason for folks to reconsider staying or coming here.  NYC has bars open later and it manages to thrive.

  • Msilvia7

    I think it will result in more late-night “after-hours parties” in residential neighborhoods. Personally, that’s not a trade I’d like to make.

  • ResidentBoston4_22yrs

    To echo SomeGuy below, 2am is already too early as is the sad MBTA service closing at Midnight.  The problem is not a social and entertainment culture, but a gun, gang, and crime culture.  This would be sadder day for an already sleepy city.  NYC, Canada, Europe and other cities manage, so can we.  Fight the gun not the fun.

  • SMP

    What will an hour difference make? Honestly for those people that have long stressful week days, the weekend is a chance to let loose an provide self care..Its not the socializing and clubing that causing the violence, especially those people who are responsible,  its the people that have no regards to other lives and their aggression that is the problem. You want to end violence, how about stopping the selling of fire arms unless you have a special permit to obtain one. Gettin a liscence to carry is very easy to obtain. Right to bare arms should have limits.   Or more survalience? How many more people have to die under the use of a gun or knife in order for something drastic to really take place… But instead we are deciding to close a club down 1 hour early? Makes NO SENSE!

  • Matthew Karlsson

    Boston already has unusually early closing bars compared to other global cities, and it really is hurting the cultural aspect of the city.  it used to be a city of cultural influence, where up and coming influential bands got started.  These days it’s a shell of its former self.
    I don’t think closing earlier (or later for that matter) would change anything from a violence perspective.   People are just going to go out earlier or pregame more as there is always a minority of people who want to get “trashed” and when they do, do terrible testosterone-induced things.Instead of limiting hours, what really is needed is more responsibility from establishments.  be more vigilant about refusing to serve patrons who have had too much or become antagonistic.

    What Boston needs – in order to catch back up with other world class cities is LATER hours, not earlier ones.We need to shed this purityrannical blue law bull once and for all.

  • Victoria

    For anyone who has lived in Boston, it should be known to avoid this area when going out at night. People shouldn’t be fooled by establishments such as the W hotel or Wang theater. It’s the “combat zone”, an area which is well known for violence dating back to the 60s. When my mother was in college she avoided the Roxy, when I was in college it was avoiding royale.
    I believe that shorter hours for businesses with a liquor license is not the solution. I understand the idea behind it that less time in a bar means less alcohol consumed, reducing fights. Just because the bar is closing earlier doesn’t mean that the fight will not continue outside of the bar. Or just because the bar is closing earlier doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t drink the same amount that they could have if it was open a few hours later. Portland Maine actually has a early bar policy, which has back fired as people have just chosen to hang out in the streets after last call at 1 am. People have noticed on the contrary an increase in fights.
    I think the only solution is to have these bars only hire off duty police officers as bouncers. That could possibly reduce the amount of fighting as people would be under the stipulation that they are being monitored by an law enforcement, rather than a bouncer who would not hold the same authority. The people have Boston have seen too much tragedy from this area. What it really boils down to is stronger presence of law enforcement at certain times and days where violent behavior is more apt to occur.

  • Audrey

    This will not stop the violence but lining up the closing time of the T to match the closing of the bars will at least help get people home safely.

  • GuyFromRevere

    I knew this victim personally. I still think that this will not change the violence. I believe that we close down the city early as it is. If you go to, NY, Miami, Vegas, LA, etc. they all close around 4am or even later. It’s not the hours, it’s the people around the area such as gangs. 

  • Iraqvet781

    I knew Stephen from High school and bumped into him 2 weeks before this all happened. I have been to just about every bar/club in Boston. Many of them are poorly ran. All they care about is bringing in cash. The regulations are not being enforced strictly enough as the commission is understaffed. Metal detectors and a quick search for knives and weapons is a quite effective tactic and mostly a deterrent. This would also have to mean a change in dress code which many venues have employed. BPD has to step it up too, applying DDACT to where the crime is at based on statistics. A tactic that has worked beautifully in Vegas is police patrolling the streets with K-9′s, interacting with the citizens looking for clues to previous crimes, ensuring public safety and questioning those with suspected gang affiliations or intent, etc… I have seen many drunken bar fights where no arrests are made. BPD should start making a prime example out of these people and those involved. The message BPD has to send out is: If you commit a crime, we will arrest you, and you will face the consequences.

  • Pokerface110186

    Night clubs and bars don’t kill people! People kill people and it’s going to happen if the clubs are open till 2 or 1. Criminals will be criminals. Don’t take away our fun and young years because you think your slowing the crime down! Crime is happening as we speak and it’s 10:22am. Our mayor should focuse on creating more jobs and helping the people in MASS! Places like Miami and Vegas close at 5am 6am and sometimes even later and they have crime. Alcohol doesn’t kill people, clubs don’t kill people! The humanity kills humanity!! You want to slow down the crime the act upon it and put more police force on the streets other then behind the desks, inside police cruisers and dounken donuts!!!! Open the clubs till 4 am and let us live young and FREE!!

  • Pokerface110186

    RIP Stephen!! We will miss you!! God has a special place for you!!!

  • Jocelynnewberry@gmail.com

    man it hard to lose someone and no lie i lost someone too like my mother she died wen i was 13 and when i see the casket in that car i felt like my mom was in it and i really felt so bad for people who was close i bet he was a good friend i wish i had a friend like him

  • Boston

    Just pat people down and get a hand held detector.

  • benswasey

    All: Thanks for your thoughtful responses to the issue and questions presented here, and my condolences to those who knew Stephen. I just wanted to point out that I’ve added an update to the post, regarding the licensing board’s jurisdiction here. – Ben

  • anon

    allow the clubs to be open later. why? that way there isnt a massive crowd by the exit of a place at such an early time when people are at their drunkest point. If you keep the bars open later, not as many people would be crowded by the exit at 4am and there will be less of a chance of an altercation.

    and hey, keep the damn trains open too.

  • rotaryseven

    Interesting how Providence after a series of shootings, decide to close an hour later,  now Boston wants to shut down an hour earlier.  Last week I talked to a young woman from a neighborhood due south of Boston, she told me that everyone she knows from her area goes to Providence for the night life.  The past ten years I have noticed whenever I was down in Providence that there were so many people from the 495 South area of Mass down there and including Worcester County people too.  So after what this young woman told me, I realized that Providence now has turned into the night life capital of three states!    Besides that, six months ago I met a dude who drives up from New Jersey every couple of weeks for the night life!!!   

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