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Police, bar owners partner to keep downtown safe

by FullertonPoliceNews

Business in downtown Fullerton is booming.

Thousands of people flock from all over Southern California for the food and atmosphere – and to have a good time.

Police officials want to keep it that way.

They invited about 100 restaurant and bar owners to the community center last week (April 15th) to discuss issues that arise from having 54 businesses with liquor licenses in a six-block area.

It's this type of proactive policing that has played an important role in keeping crime near 20-year lows. The idea: instead of simply reacting to crime, police work with the community to identify and address root causes.

In downtown Fullerton last year, officers made 562 drunken driving arrests, including 13 DUI crashes. There were also dozens of assaults.

"We could put 100 cops downtown, but we'd be swatting flies," said Lt. Andrew Goodrich. "We want to work together to solve this."

Added Police Chief Dan Hughes: “We want downtown to continue to flourish.”

Slidebar owner Jeremy Popoff had already convened a group of owners, calling it the “Downtown Restaurant Association.” Some of the ideas include:

  • Creating space on the four corners of downtown for taxis to stage. If people know where to get a cab, that might cut some confusion.
  • Creating a smartphone app so security guards at one restaurant/bar can let others know when they’ve kicked somebody out for bad behavior.
  • Offering patrons a free appetizer if they bring in a receipt showing they took a cab home to deter drunken driving.

He said he’s already seen an improvement by identifying and removing troublemakers before they become too intoxicated.

“Nobody feels comfortable in a bar full of knuckleheads,” he said.

Sgt. Tony Rios suggested having security guards from each business at 1 a.m. don a yellow jacket. If patrons notice a sea of security, they’ll be less inclined to start trouble.

Police officials are also encouraging owners to call them if they see people “pre-partying” in parking lots.

Gregg Hanour, former owner of the Shark Club in Costa Mesa and author of “A Business Approach to Reducing Drunk Driving,” said police departments typically conduct undercover stings to build a case to remove a troubled bar.

“You’re lucky,” he told the bar owners. “Your police department wants to work with you.”