Police chief: St. Charles bars getting better at preventing problems

Updated 2/16/2016 8:16 PM

Things have gotten better at downtown St. Charles bars in the last year, as far as people starting fights, getting drunk and urinating in public, or generally misbehaving, according to Police Chief James Keegan.

Keegan told the city's liquor commission Tuesday the improvement is due to better cooperation between bar owners and police.


He was presenting the list of establishments seeking to renew late-night permits, which come due May 1, and allow serving alcohol until 1 or 2 a.m.

Two bars in his report -- Alibi and Alley 64 -- logged the most police incidents in 2015, with 14 for Alibi and 19 for Alley 64. But that doesn't mean they were negative incidents, Keegan said.

Both bars have stepped up efforts to prevent underage drinking and are calling police when they confiscate false identification, he said. Those proactive calls are counted as incidents.

The more-important statistics in the report, he said, are for arrests at or near establishments that can be directly tied to those places, and written warnings issued to businesses. The Alibi had no warnings and four arrests; Alley 64 had one warning and two arrests.

Alley 64 started using an ID-scanning system that, besides checking the validity of the ID and noting the patron's identity and age, can compile information, such as whether someone has been banned from the bar. It also logs the time someone entered the bar, which helps prevent patrons from entering with legitimate ID, then using sleight of hand to slip the ID back to an underage friend, Keegan said.

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Commission members got a laugh when Keegan told them that, in one false-ID case, the scanner displayed the message "I paid 10 bucks for this."

The police also worked with one bar on a remediation.

Keegan said he has tagged along on foot patrols on some nighttime shifts, including last Friday night.

"I have not only seen progress, but I also see a willingness to learn" and to correct behavior seen in the past, Keegan said.

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