No downtown fights reported in three months in Naperville

Naperville touts new bar restrictions as succeeding

There's one clear highlight from the second downtown crime report since Naperville strengthened restrictions on late-night bar entry, shot sales, beer sizes drink specials and security training: No fights.

No arrests or citations were recorded during a three-month period from December 2014 through February of this year in a category that tracks assault, battery and fighting in the city's downtown, Deputy Police Chief Brian Cunningham said Friday.

There were 25 such reports during the same three months in 2013 and 2014. The decrease shows significant improvement in downtown night life safety, Cunningham said.

“To me, that's huge — a 25-incident drop,” he said. “If we're changing that, I hope we're changing the culture.”

Included in the category are assault, which includes threatening someone without physically hurting them; battery, such as punching a bar patron, employee or police officer; and fighting.

One large brawl in the middle of Washington Street in July 2014 was part of the reason Naperville City Council members implemented new rules that restrict serving sizes to 24 ounces for craft brews and 22 ounces for non-craft beers, prohibit the service of shots one hour before closing time, prohibit drink specials that decrease the price by more than half, require beverage server training for security personnel and forbid people from entering bars within one hour of closing time.

A fatal crash into a water-filled quarry also in July 2014 and a fatal stabbing in 2012 also were among the tragedies that motivated city council members to act.

The late-night entry restriction that doesn't let people enter new bars one hour before closing was the biggest factor in eliminating fights during December, January and February, Cunningham said. With the regulation in place, people leave bars gradually and can get to taxis or their cars without encountering large crowds and the potential for fights to start over an accidental bump or a misinterpreted statement, he said.

Four other categories included in the downtown liquor-related crime report also showed decreases during the winter period this year compared to last year. Those categories include resisting arrest or obstructing or interfering with an officer, which fell to zero reports from four; disorderly conduct, which fell to zero incidents from one; public urination, which decreased to one report from six; and ambulance calls from liquor establishments, which dropped to zero from seven.

Violations increased in two categories this winter compared to last. Arrests for DUI increased to six from three and there was one report of criminal damage to property, up from zero.

With warmer weather ahead, Cunningham said police are prepared to send more officers downtown if needed. School resource officers will be reassigned there during the summer and police will focus on enforcing nuisance issues like public urination or safety concerns such as fights if they arise.

Still, seeing a three-month stretch without fights, assaults or batteries in the downtown has Cunningham optimistic that changes the city implemented last fall are working.

“I hope that's the reason for the drop,” he said.

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