Police recommend suspension of bar’s license
JANESVILLE No laws were broken when files were manually deleted from the video archives of Quotes Bar and Grill.
But the Janesville Police Department’s trust was broken, Deputy Chief Dan Davis said.
The Wisconsin State Crime Lab has confirmed that video recordings of a Sept. 28 fight at Quotes, 24 N. Main St., were deleted, Davis said.
The police department will recommend that the city pull the bar’s liquor license for two weeks and recommend the bar be forced to close at 12:30 a.m. for one year, Davis said.
The committee could make a recommendation to the Janesville City Council, which will have the final say.
Police reviewed the video in September while investigating the fight and found that files were missing. Local investigators were unsure whether the video system had malfunctioned or the files were manually deleted. Bar owner Denise Carpenter told police she thought a power surge deleted the files.
“The level of cooperation we got from the bar was nonexistent,” Davis said.
A boyfriend of Carpenter’s daughter was involved in the fight, Davis said.
Police executed a search warrant to seize the computer. Since that time, the computer has been at the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, Davis said.
State investigators recently confirmed that the video was manually deleted. Investigators restored the files, Davis said. Two people were arrested after police were able to view the files, he said. One person was arrested last fall.
Carpenter on Friday afternoon declined to talk to The Gazette about the proposed sanctions.
The deleted video is party of a long list of black marks against Quotes, Davis said.
Between May 2010 and June 2011, police investigated 49 incidents of fighting and disorderly conduct in and around Quotes, according to the search warrant executed in September. After each of those incidents, Quotes gave police video from surveillance cameras.
In June 2011, police recommended the bar be closed at 12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays to reduce the violent incidents.
Carpenter at the time said she would try new strategies, Davis said. She was given 30 days and then 60 more days.
Then the Sept. 28 fight happened, and the video files disappeared.
According to the search warrant, a police lieutenant who responded to the fight tried to talk to Carpenter in the bar office, but a woman identifying herself as the bar manager blocked his way.
The lieutenant called out to Carpenter, and she told him he could enter. He found her in front of the computer monitor used for video surveillance. There were no images on the monitor.
Carpenter told the officer there must have been a power surge because she was not able to view the video, according to the search warrant.
A few days later, Carpenter was cited for selling beer out the back door of the bar after midnight in violation of city ordinance.
Police have waited for the crime lab results before deciding what sanctions to recommend, Davis said.
Meanwhile, according to police records:
-- A patron’s leg was broken in November after an altercation with a staff member.
-- A person was knocked unconscious in February.
-- In May, someone’s tooth was knocked out.
-- This month, fights and incidents are on the rise.
The matter has gone on for so long in part because the department recognizes the importance of thriving businesses in Janesville, Davis said. Imposing sanctions can’t be taken lightly, he said.
“We want people to be employed, the building to remain occupied and all of the other things that are good for a community,” Davis said.
The department must balance public safety with the cost and availability of resources, Davis said. Quotes is getting more than a fair share of police services, he said.
“When we look at those things we’re responsible for,” Davis said, “we’re out of balance.”