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Alcohol Safety group mulls bar spill-out

BY TING XUAN TAN | JULY 10, 2014 5:00 AM

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Underage patrons leaving the bars at 10 p.m. may not be as large of an issue as originally perceived.
At University of Iowa Partnership for Alcohol Safety meeting on Wednesday, many topics were brought up, but the main area of discussion was the 10 p.m. spill-out from bars.

In the large cities, huge crowds leaving is not a problem, but in downtown Iowa City, there may be a small-town mentality, said Shelly Campo, a UI associate professor of community and behavioral health. She said people think the crowds should not happen, except at Hancher events.

“I think that there is a little bit of bias about you know, [when] people aren’t allowed to have fun and leave in large groups,” Campo said. “It’s a problem when people have violent behaviors, but I think that we should respond to a problem and not perceptions of a problem.”

There have not been any clear data to show that the exodus from bars at 10 p.m. has inconvenienced the public. A few unofficial surveys have been done, but none were specifically aimed at this issue.

Iowa City police Lt. Troy Kelsay, the commanding officer of the evening patrol, has experience with interacting with the 10 p.m. and the 2 a.m. crowd. He said the “10 p.m. crowd” is less likely to do illegal activities, such as use a doorway as a bathroom, compared eith the crowd when the bars close.

“There truly is a crowd mentality,” he said.

However, when the crowd gets denser, the members behave worse than usual. An example of this behavior is the recent vandalism of the Herky statue downtown.

To get a student’s perspective on the issue, Kelly Bender, the Campus-Community Harm Reduction Initiatives coordinator, emailed some students.

One UISG member’s input on methods to improve on the spill-out was to provide transport for students to get home.

The student said by having a Cambus wait for a longer time at the downtown stops, it will allow more people who leave the bars to get rides home, which would decrease the possibility for them to hang around and engage in negative behavior.

In its search to solve the issue, the Iowa City Downtown District has examined how other communities have responded to similar circumstances.

One of the solutions is to hire private security, but that answer has limitations.

“With private security, No. 1, it’s expensive, but No. 2, there is no obligation to arrest or get people home,” said Nancy Bird, the executive director of the Downtown District.


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