Police calls don’t always spell trouble
While the Board of License Commissioners expressed concerns regarding the number of police calls during the 2018 summer season, the proprietors of the island’s businesses say the numbers do not always indicate a crime is being committed.
The topic came up at the Town Council’s meeting on Nov. 1 when council members acted as liquor commissioners, and unanimously approved the renewal of 32 beverage licenses of varying classes, as well as 23 outdoor entertainment licenses.
The commissioners also approved the liquor license, with stipulations, for Club Soda, which was fined $1,000 last year due to two separate alcohol related traffic incidents. Club Soda co-owner Maxon Balmforth said the restaurant would be closed for six months, from Dec. 1, 2018 to May 1, 2019.
Throughout the meeting First Warden Ken Lacoste referenced the police log, which noted 159 total calls related to 29 of the island’s establishments that were open for the 2018 summer season.
Some had no calls: Bethany’s Airport Diner, Dead Eye Dick’s, Eli’s, and The Narragansett Inn.
There were also 48 medical assistance calls.
“All of the information we have is how many police calls,” said Councilor Martha Ball. “And we don’t have what it’s for; what it’s about; if it’s you being proactive. And I’m trying to underscore the point here; that we need better information. It’s not fair to anyone who has high numbers unless we know what they’re for.”
Frank DiBiase III, of The Spring House Hotel and The Barn, said the commissioners should not be discouraging businesses from working with the police, and that police calls can be made for a variety of reasons.
“You shouldn’t discourage businesses from using the police” for enforcement, and the Rescue Squad for medical assistance. He said people sometimes call the police for their own personal reasons.
Steve Filippi, of Ballard’s Inn, said, “A lot of times other people call the police; it’s not us. And a lot of times the police show up and there’s never a problem.”
Rich Trethaway, who works at Captain Nick’s, said, “You’ll find it’s often an on-the-street problem; it’s not from inside” the building. He said Capt. Nick’s is proactive at the door to prevent potential issues.
Second Warden André Boudreau said he was “a little uncomfortable” discussing the town’s police log in the absence of Chief Vin Carlone.
“This is all speculation,” as to why the police were called, he said.
Ball said she thought it was “important” for the commissioners to discuss the report, “so we know what to ask for next year” to address any issues related to police enforcement and the island’s businesses.
“I want to echo what Frank said,” said Town Manager Ed Roberge, who noted that the calls were for a variety of reasons.
“It was a very positive year. If the chief were here he would say that. Everybody worked hard, and managed their facilities quite well. We encourage that kind of interaction. If you need help we’re always going to be there. Collectively we’re in this together,” Roberge said.
DiBiase said the island’s business issues “do not compare to the violations of liquor licenses on the mainland, in cities like Providence, that include stabbings, and shootings, and fighting, and things like that.”
“Kind of puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?” said Lacoste.
“I think that the island, on the whole, is pretty well managed,” said DiBiase, “and the police offer good support for our businesses. And it’s important to have that relationship.”
The commissioners also unanimously approved the liquor license renewal for Club Soda with five stipulations. Lacoste made the motion, which was seconded by Boudreau. “It will remain closed from Dec. 1, 2018 to May 1, 2019, and Oct. 15, 2019 to Nov. 30, 2019,” said Lacoste.
“Last year we set certain stipulations on this license,” said Lacoste, noting that the stipulations are that management shall not consume alcoholic beverages, shall be cooperative, shall not engage in physical altercations, shall notify the New Shoreham Police of any illegal drug activity on the premises of Club Soda, and not allow congregating on the front porch.
“I spoke with the Chief,” said Roberge, who noted that Club Soda was fined in May of 2018 after two alcohol-related traffic accidents that occurred during the winter. “And we continue to work with” the applicant. “We recommend, and the Chief recommends, maintaining the stipulations of the license for another year.”
“I just want to clarify,” said Boudreau. “You said you’re working with the applicant to make things better. So, these are not indefinite stipulations?”
Roberge said the stipulations are being continued for another season.
“The Chief would report that it’s been very positive. And we recommend that we maintain those conditions.”
Balmforth said, “Things have definitely been great up there. We have been working closely with the police and haven’t had any issues this year. A lot of things the Chief recommended we acted upon, and it’s made a big difference.”