Are Anchorage’s Bars Safe for Patrons?
Assault charges against Rumrunner’s raise the question
ANCHORAGE - A popular downtown bar has been charged with assault and tampering with evidence after a customer says he was badly beaten by the bouncers at Rumrunner's.
Now the question is, what are other bars and nightclubs doing to put customers at ease that something similar won't happen elsewhere?
For Johnny Brown, it was a trip to a downtown bar that turned into a nightmare. He was a customer at Rumrunner’s back in October 2011 and says he got beat up by bouncers. Now the bar is facing criminal charges. “They wouldn't stop assaulting me until I agreed to not press charges,” said Brown. “The bouncer chokes me to the point where I can't breathe and I almost go unconscious.”
“If we see private security overstepping their bounds then we have to step in,“ said APD spokesman Lieutenant Dave Parker.
Those who work in other bars, like Woodshed Lounge says it's a line that should never have been crossed. “If by us having to go hands-on when a fight breaks out, if that's the best way to do it and we can do it in a safe manner, we are going to stop the fight to keep innocent bystanders from getting hurt,” said Ryan Butler, who does security at Woodshed and says everyone from the managers working the floor to the bartenders and the door staff all of them are communicating, conducting intoxication screenings at the door and even walking out those who are too drunk to stay at the bar. It’s a team approach to making sure everyone is safe.
“Nobody wakes up and decides I’m going to go to the bar and see what kind of fights I can pick tonight,” said Butler. “They are all here to drink and hang out with their friends and if you treat them they way you want to be treated everything will work out for the best.”
Things are the same a couple of blocks down the street. Humpy’s works with the Alcoholic Beverage Control board and Anchorage Police to make sure their standards are enforced. “They look for situations before they even become situations on the premises,” said Humpy’s general manager Pete Burns. “We run it by those guys first before we make a stand on it because we want to make sure we are covering our bases as well as more importantly our guests bases.”
But Anchorage police say the buck doesn't stop with the bars. “A person needs to drink responsibly,” said Parker. “And that means drink responsibly whether you’re at home or whether you’re out at a picnic or whether you’re in a bar.”
APD says while most bars do follow the rules, there are some who are not being responsible which is why officers have stepped up their Title IV enforcement of intoxicated drinkers and bars serving them.