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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.

Springfield

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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