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Call For Enforcement Unit For Downtown Brawls

Walnut Creek Council member Kristina Lawson makes the case for special police effort in a newspaper column.

Walnut Creek City Council member Kristina Lawson favors a special enforcement unit for the police to battle.

Lawson made the case, backing up a proposal from Police Chief Joel Bryden, in an opinion piece in the Contra Costa Times. Such enforcement units are used in cities with bustling nightlife, Lawson said: Huntington Beach, Santa Barbara, San Jose and Napa.

"While we can't legislate business ethics or personal responsibility," Lawson wrote, "we must ensure our community is safe and enjoyable for all."

WC-Independent February 14, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I'm hoping the enforcement unit will deter the scums that are showing up in town. Once the word gets out maybe the Pitt/Bay Point/Antioch crowd will continue on to Oakland.
L CATTOLICO February 15, 2012 at 12:18 AM
We dont have enough officers in the neighborhoods now, if we are going to pull resources away from the neighborhoods I dont agree with this. If we are going to add officers then let the bars pay for them. I dont pay taxes in WC to provide bar owners with free security.
obiwan February 15, 2012 at 03:12 AM
I agree with L CATTOLICO. The FIRST responsibility for keeping drunks off the streets should fall on the restaurant/bar owners. Why should the bar owners get to keep the revenue they receive from over-serving drinks while the City picks up the tab for the extra cops needed to manage the drunks the bars turn loose onto the streets? As Council member Lawson says "we can't legislate business ethics or personal responsibility". But we should make people pay to clean up the mess they create.
Berto February 15, 2012 at 06:39 AM
What a joke. Someone is looking for headlines! Lawson has been caught off guard, missed retreats and is looking for something that she can hang her hat on moving forward. Why should anyone except the establishments pay for any additional resources. Think about all of the cash that changes hands at each of these places that are not TAXED! Door man, door fee, drinks, etc.... Make them pay, it is an added cost of business.. I would rather see tax supporting business in these locations that do not drain our resources.
Davidson Freeman February 15, 2012 at 05:01 PM
The term "over serving" is a joke. How much a person consumes is their choice, nobody else's. If they want to risk getting sick or arrested that is also their choice. Th first step in dealing with a social problem is making individuals accountable for their own behavior. Many people going out in WC are drunk before the even get into a bar. Bars have the right to deny entry or additional drinks. Believe me, I've seen that happen before. It's in their best interest to avoid conflict. If we want to discourage unruly behavior downtown, the solution is to make people think twice about their choices. A temporary, higher level of police presence (a few weekends in a row) and increased fines for drunk in public, public urination, fighting, etc. will punish the perpetrators. This is what San Luis Obispo did when I was going to school there and, despite the complaints of my fellow students, the measures worked.
Jim February 15, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I also agree the bar owners are responsible. However, until someone figures out the legal requirements to target a small group of businesses for additional taxes (not an easy thing to do) I applaud Ms. Lawson for finally showing show leadership on this issue. You can only cut the police department so much (i.e. Cindy Silva, Charlie Abrams, Gary Skrel, Gwen Regalia et al) and not expect problems. A safe community is the single largest economic engine this city has. Economics 101 for Charlie and his Chamber of Commerce pals. It's not Tiffany's, Broadway Plaza or the Lesher Center. Those things mean zero without safety. Don't forget Walnut Creek has plenty of money. Councilman Rajan said so-it is a matter of choices. 21 percent of all city funding STILL goes to subsidize the arts. This is roughly the same amount before the recession hit. Glad to see people like Lawson and Rajan bring some common sense to the table after all the damage done by prior city leaders.
Jim February 15, 2012 at 06:15 PM
And Mr Steele Walnut Creek is not San Luis Obispo. Imagine if all the gang bangers from Santa Maria, Atascadero and Paso Robles decided to crash downtown SLO every weekend with the Poly kids and you'd have a more accurate comparison to our "new" nightlife.
Davidson Freeman February 15, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Downtown San Luis Obispo was not only Cal Poly students. It does include the outside residents from the cities you described, similar to how WC includes Antioch and Bay Point residents, in addition to students from the local community college. The demographics are slightly different, but the problems are practically interchangeable. In both situations you have people coming into town to get drunk and are not afraid to cause a problem. So what's the simple solution? Create policies that discourage rabble-rousers from visiting in the first place. Putting more burden on the bar owners is the wrong solution. Placing more burden on WCPD is not desirable either, but I'd rather be punishing the people causing the problem rather than law-abiding business owners.
obiwan February 15, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Mike - If a person is sitting at home with a well-stocked liquor cabinet, then yes, how much he or she consumes is a matter of personal choice. But in a restaurant/bar situation you don't get a drink unless you are served. We should demand that owners, bartenders and wait staff act responsibly even when their customers don't. Secondly, I do recognize that even with good bar management practices, there are going to be incidents. Somebody might have been drinking or taking pain meds or whatever before they enter the bar and it's not really apparent that one drink will put them over the top. This is where I would like to see the bar owners group step forward with a plan for dealing with this kind of situation, which is an inevitable consequence of the business they are in. The City needs to be loud and clear about the fact that it's not acceptable to simply have your bouncers dump guys out onto the street and make it a public safety problem.

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