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updated: 10/13/2011 1:26 PM

Elgin mayor: Afterset bar needs to 'tighten their ship up.'

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On Wednesday, the Elgin Liquor Control Commission put the Afterset bar on notice, in response to a large-scale brawl outside the bar and other assorted mayhem near its property.

For one thing, the city says it will not tolerate overcrowding at the nightspot, located across the street from the Elgin Police Department.

On Friday and Saturday nights, police are going to start running crowd checks at the bar to ensure it's not beyond its capacity of 80 customers.

If police find that it is, they will close the bar for the night and report the matter to the city.

The commission is also asking that the Afterset maintain a ban list to keep troublemakers out. Police recommend that the bar starts with listing people who have fought with officers, but that decision ultimately lies with the bar owner. If ownership decides to leave those people off the list, that will send a clear signal to the city.

"If you can't ban people who are fighting with police ... we need to review, in my view, if (Afterset) should have one of two 4 a.m. liquor licenses in town," Corporation Counsel Bill Cogley said.

Other provisions to the city's liquor code include banning loitering on adjacent or on public property near a liquor establishment. This would help curtail problems from people who were thrown out of the bars or those looking to start trouble, they said.

As well, a provision proposed this week that would require bars with 4 a.m. licenses to close their doors at 3:30 a.m. and to stop serving alcohol at 3:45 a.m., will be redrafted to include bars with 3 a.m. closings -- in the name of being fair. With an affirmative voted from the control commission, the proposed amendments now move to the city council for a future vote.

Finally, legal staff will take a look at adding a provision that would hold bars accountable for fights on nearby property.

"It shouldn't be that you can just push our problems outside on the sidewalk ... and let our police officers clean up the mess," Cogley said.

This action is all in response to the July 30, early morning brawl outside the Afterset in which police from Elgin and surrounding communities had to break up a fight that attracted 200 people, injured at least one police officer and resulted in multiple arrests.

"I think the message we need to send ... is we're not going to tolerate this -- we can't tolerate those these things," Liquor Control Commission Chairman Dave Kaptain said. "Somebody could have been killed here."

But Commission Member Bob Gilliam wondered if that went far enough.

"You're always going to have a bar just like the Afterset in Elgin," Gilliam said. "And this will always be a problem, unless we get rid of it for just cause."

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