Friday, September 14, 2007

Ann Arbor Police: "We'll Get The Bar In The Long Run"

So this was interesting last night. I have some friends I went to undergrad with back in town for the big 0-2 Michigan versus 0-2 Notre Dame game, and they wanted to check out some of the old bars they used to go to in undergrad. One of the bars we checked out was Studio 4. Here's where things get interesting.

Apparently, Studio 4 has a reputation for allowing in underage patrons into their bar. I never had heard about this before yesterday, and they seemed pretty strict at the door when we went in, but that's the reputation. And the Ann Arbor Police Department apparently also knows about this reputation because about a half hour or so after we arrived, two or three police officers were walking around the bar. The first thought was, "this has to be great for business." What bar owner doesn't want police walking around their establishment? The second thought was trying to figure out what the police were doing.

It quickly became apparent that the police were there to curtail the underage drinking going on at the bar. That's a fine use of police resources, I have no problem with it. But, what was weird was how the police were trying to stop the underage drinking at the bar. Instead of citing the bar for violating Michigan liquor laws, or shutting down the bar, the police were seemingly indiscriminately questioning those who looked under 21. If you looked young, and had a drink in your hand, you were likely to be asked by a police officer for your ID. If it was a fake, you were escorted out, and allegedly (though I did not see this first hand) given a "minor in possession" citation.

This seems incredible inefficient to me. You are the police trying to prevent underage drinking and you are at a bar known to be serving underage drinkers. You have two options:

A) Shut down the bar, ticketing the establishment, and potentially begin proceedings to strip the bar's liquor license.

B) Walk around the bar, stop people seemingly at random (especially those who look young), hand out citations to them (but not the bar).

"Option B" doesn't get to the root of the problem. Sure, you may cause a lot of the underage drinkers to scatter, but in the long run, they'll be back. Either you want to prevent underage drinking or you don't.

So last night, I went up to the one of the police officers (I don't drink so I figured I had nothing to lose by trying to satisfy my curiosity) and asked about the policy of ticketing patrons but not the bar. "We'll get the bar in the long run" was the officer's response. What does that even mean? They knew the bar was allowing in and serving alcohol to underage patrons. They were at the bar, standing around. But, the decision was made to let the bar continue serving minors while the police tried to determine who was underage and who wasn't and taking out the ones they could find but not all of the underage drinkers?

The policy, to me, doesn't make any sense. Am I missing something?

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Anonymous said...

honestly? you generate more revenue by ticketing the underage drinkers, which has always been the priority by the police here in Ann Arbor.

Rybu said...

I wonder if having the Police inside Studio 4 is worse for business than actually ticketing. Nothing kills a good time at a bar more than cops trying to smell something where theres nothing to smell.

GO blue!

Benjamin said...



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