SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Spa City grappling with safety concerns after nightlife turned violent with the recent police officer involved shooting.
“I don’t think anyone wants to punish the bar owners and the folks who have nightlife establishments. I think it’s really about the bar owners working with the local politicians, the mayor, and local law enforcement to find a solution,” says Karen Ziegler, the director of the Albany County Crime Victim and Sexual Violence Center.
She says bars and businesses could utilize what she is calling a safety audit.
“The bartenders, the wait staff, training managers and it talks about things like how to distract, how to discourage, how to redirect it. It’s very helpful in terms of acknowledging and recognizing behavior this concerning,” says Ziegler.
Ziegler explains an audit looks at personnel and the space of the business itself.
“Looking at the lighting, looking at things like the training of the bouncers and the training of any type of security staff that they have. Looking at how to address behaviors before they happen,” said Ziegler.
Several Saratoga bars have formed a “Downtown Safety Committee” with The Saratoga County Chamber.
Their ideas include creating the committee made up of public safety leaders, restaurant owners, and other city officials who would discuss safety plans. They are also calling on the police department to hold workshops for restaurant security personnel, and to hire an independent security firm to review current safety procedures.
But what about closing bars earlier?
“The longer someone can consume alcohol and more alcohol will be consumed and again if we talked about the judgment that can become even poorer and inhibitions can be less,” said Ziegler.
The City Council voted no, for now, on the idea of closing bars earlier and holding establishments responsible for misconduct after closing.
“That violence isn’t good for anybody. It’s not good for the bars, it’s not good for the community. I know the law enforcement doesn’t want to be, is not looking to have to deal with this either. So, I think that if they can come together, that it’d be a win-win,” said Ziegler.
City leaders are still focused on safety and are looking into a follow up meeting with law officials to readdress the concerns and other possible solutions.