Saratoga Springs Shooting Renews Controversial Bar Curfew Battle
If you love late nights in Saratoga Springs, the last call lights could start flashing sooner than you remember. A new wave of downtown deaths and assaults has reignited a debate over an earlier close for bars.
This is not the first time Saratoga Springs officials have pushed for changes to the 4am closing time, but many feel that something has to give after a high-profile shooting on Broadway this month. Now city bars are now preparing for a another type of fight they’ve dealt with before.
A History of Violence
On November 20, an off-duty Vermont Sheriff’s Deputy was shot ten times outside a bar during a fight with a Utica man. Not much else has been released about the high-profile incident, as the Times Union reports the Saratoga County District Attorney placed a gag order about the case on all city officials.
Most of downtown Saratoga’s violent crimes in recent years happened around 3am, with only one death coming before midnight. While city bars are more in favor of introducing more thorough security screenings at the door with metal detectors, elected leaders say this is not enough. They say the 4am close needs to be pushed back to 2am.
Is 2 AM 2 Soon?
The quickest route to a 2am closing time would be through the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors – the problem is that this would change the serving hours for the entire county. Many businesses in the county view the late-night violence as just a city problem. They say that it would be unfair to limit bars and establishments outside of downtown.
To avoid any fight from outside the city, Saratoga Springs could also appeal to the State Liquor Authority. The SLA has the power to separate Saratoga Springs’ serving hours from the rest of Saratoga County. The Liquor Authority was behind the strict rules, including a 2am close, for the reopening of Gaffney’s over the summer.
All previous attempts to get bar closings shifted back have failed, including a similar attempt to have a 2am closing for city bars in the summer, when most tourists visit. Local business owners feel they’re not the ones to blame – its bad eggs who travel to the city looking for a fight. It looks like the fight is about to move from Broadway to city hall.