Janesville bar put on notice

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011
— The owner of a downtown bar has 30 days to make a “marked improvement” in the number of fights at the establishment or face restrictions on her alcohol license.

Police also are concerned that bouncers at Quotes Bar & Grill, 24 N. Main St., are too aggressive with patrons.

Of all the disorderly conduct and battery calls made to bars, Quotes accounts for 42 percent, said Dan Davis, deputy police chief. Sixty-five percent of those incidents occur after 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Fights have left patrons unconscious and with broken noses and teeth, Davis said. One individual suffered a brain bruise.

For reasons such as this, Davis recommended to the alcohol license and advisory committee that Quotes’ alcohol license be restricted to a closing time of 12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Owner Denise Carpenter appeared before the committee Tuesday and said she would make changes to reduce the number of police calls to the bar. Carpenter also said she would reroute traffic inside the bar so those leaving do so only through the rear, reduce the bar’s occupancy and create a waiting line.

Committee members said they would give her 30 days to improve, said Matt Schreier, committee chairman.

Carpenter told Davis an earlier closing time would “potentially be fatal to her business,” Davis said.

Carpenter could not be reached for comment.

“The bottom line is, for quite some time, calls for police service at Quotes have been above the norm,” Davis said. “The things we have tried to date are not working.”

Carpenter works well with the police department and has tried to reduce calls, including adding surveillance, Davis said. She has a scanning system that flags those who want to enter the bar but who have been arrested for fighting in the past. Those people are not allowed to enter, he said.

Carpenter’s patrons are typically in their mid 20s, Davis said. Police have found those arrested for fighting have extensive arrest histories.

“One question is are they (Quotes) attracting a criminal element for whatever reason?” Davis said. Police staff will analyze the histories of patrons arrested at other bars for comparisons.

“We’re trying to figure out what’s going on,” Davis said.

One thing did “jump off the page” for police, Davis said. Quotes staff is “way too aggressive with the patrons,” he said.

“I believe that it sends a message to the patrons that if you have a problem with somebody, here’s how you handle it,” Davis said.

It’s rare that officials take away an officer’s discretion in handing a case, Davis said.

“I can tell you that the message has been sent that if Quotes staff is going ‘hands on’ with citizens when not absolutely necessary, and if there’s probable cause, then there’s an arrest,” he said. “That is not going to be tolerated any longer.”

Davis is skeptical that Carpenter’s changes will work, but he said his department is willing to give her the opportunity.

Carpenter has said police calls to her bar are high because she has been encouraged to call police about trouble in the past.

“We feel there’s a balance,” Davis said. “It’s not a free ticket to not manage your place and just call the police to just fix the trouble.

“It’s too much of a drain on police resources.”

Last updated: 5:57 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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