Theodore's World: Town Looks to Record When You Drink Alcohol

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January 19, 2009

Town Looks to Record When You Drink Alcohol

Town looks to record when you drink alcohol

Wants surveillance systems to help crack down on brawling


An official in North Dakota is hoping to force bar owners into installing surveillance cameras that monitor drinkers and record evidence police can use to crack down on bar fights.

Oliver County State's Attorney Mike Liffrig asked the city of Center, N.D., to require the cameras after a bar brawl earlier this month left a man with severe facial injuries. Liffrig told the Associated Press that the surveillance footage would help prove wrongdoing in the rural town where bar fights are so common it makes Center seem like the Wild West.

Bar owners and local patrons, however, don't like the idea of police keeping a recorded eye on what is done and said after a few beers.

Perry Wolf, owner of Lonewolf Saloon told the AP, "I don't have a problem with the video camera, but I won't put audio in here. That's baloney."

Wolf explained, "There are a lot of people who come to bars to talk about other people. I like to drink my beer, too, and my mouth might get a little loose."

Dean Windhorst claims to have been beaten up twice in Center bar brawls, sporting a pair of black eyes and a busted lip for weeks after the last fight. Still, Windhorst opposes the cameras.

"It's an invasion of privacy," he said.

Center is a town of 700 about 40 miles northwest of Bismarck in a county ranked by the North Dakota Job Service as having the highest average annual wage among the state's 53 counties since 1993.

Center's City Attorney John Mahoney told the AP that Center is a quiet, friendly town and the city is determined to keep it that way.

"This is a good place to raise a family and we're trying to draw people here," Mahoney said. "This fighting gives us a black eye and we don't need it – the city is very serious about getting a handle on this."

Without the cameras, however, Mahoney feels there's little authorities can do about the bar brawls that often break out, he says, between union and nonunion workers building power plants and wind farm projects in the county.

"One of the problems is that fights don't get reported," said Mahoney, "or they don't get reported until several days later, and by then the evidence is stale and the trail is cool."

Local bar owners, however, say they'd rather handle the problem themselves than subject their law-abiding customers to police surveillance.

"A lot of this has been cleaned up pretty good already," Wolf told the AP. "I've owned this bar six years and I've only had to call 911 three or four times."

Susan Cahoon, owner of Cahoon's Bar & Grill, agreed that her customers wouldn't like the idea of police watching their every drink. She said her business has a security camera to guard against burglary, but the problem of bar fights can be handled by banishing the rowdies from the bar.

Wolf explained, "There are a couple of local construction workers who are laid off and like to pick fights. They're a couple of troublemakers who get drunk and get stupid. They were the source of a lot of the problems. Now they have to move on somewhere else."

Rather than using surveillance cameras, police entered bars directly and subjected patrons to sobriety tests.

"[Officers] were talking to one of the guests, then physically pulled him off the barstool," Richie Prisco, general manager at Champps bar in Fairfax County told the Reston Times. "They were really aggressive and nasty."

According to the report, police hauled customers outside of establishments to conduct sobriety tests, then arrested them for public drunkenness should they fail.

In response to complaints the raids were overly aggressive, police spokeswoman Grinnan said, "I've had bar owners come up to me [and] ask what is going on, but I've also had some approach me aggressively, telling me I couldn't be there and I was violating their constitutional rights."
Grinnan told the Times, "I've been an officer for over 17 years, and we've been doing it on and off over my entire career. As much as officers hate to spoil a good time, they hate even more to go out at 2 a.m. and work a death of anybody that is alcohol-related."

Wild Thing's comment........

I would think all they need are a few bouncers to keep the fights down, that would be what I would do if I owned a bar. There is no need to make people feel big brother is watching them, this is not about tracking down terrorists.

The other part of the article about the police giving sobriety tests. I am totally against drunk driving , and I like one dea I heard on othe news a few weeks ago. This one bar they told about offers to pay the cab fare for the patron to get home.


....Thank you Mark for sending this to me.

3rd Mar.Div. 1st Battalion 9th Marine Regiment
1/9 Marines aka The Walking Dead
VN 66-67

Posted by Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 04:48 AM


Realized in 1989 that I am allergic to alcohol (break out in handcuffs and divorce) so I gave it up. I have been thanking God ever since. Don’t think camera’s would have made any difference to me. I pass.

Posted by: James M at January 19, 2009 06:12 AM

No kidding. Cameras do not deter crime. Why doesn't one of the bars hire the two construction workers as bouncers? Then maybe they won't be so angry and drink all the time and cause trouble.
I know the attorney means well and that's a good thing, but it's too "big brother." We've already lost too much already. What will we lose next?

Posted by: Lynn at January 19, 2009 06:36 AM

Alcohol doesn't kill. Cars don't kill. DRUNK and BUZZED humanoids kill! MADD isn't too MAD about 50 million would be drivers that were snuffed out in their mothers wombs!
- I survived Roe v. Wade 2009

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at January 19, 2009 08:30 AM

Cameras in a bar...nothing is sacred anymore.

Posted by: yankeemom at January 19, 2009 09:52 AM

Government voyeurism, not needed. Lynn has the right idea. Hire bouncers. Refuse to sell to the trouble makers. Lots of answers to the problem, but not government required cameras. If a bar owner wants to put up surveillance cameras I say go ahead. It's his bar, his choice, his patrons. If his patrons don't like it they can go to another bar that doesn't have cameras.

Posted by: TomR at January 19, 2009 11:01 AM

I always do my drinking at home....
I NEVER drink and drive.
My neighbors ALWAYS drink at home.

When we have too much, we either love each other or beat each other up. The next day is a new start, and we all get up being good neighbors.

(being Irish helps)

Posted by: Steve Gaston at January 19, 2009 11:41 AM

I agree with TomR....if the bar owner wants to install cameras, that's his/her business.....not the governments!!!!

And for Steve Windhorst that got the crap beat out of him twice before....uh....STOP GOING TO THE BARS!!!!! Or at least the one where you got the crap kicked out of you!!!!! Must have been some brain damage after the first fight!!!!

Darth hit the nail right on the head!!!! "MADD isn't too MAD about 50 million would be drivers that were snuffed out in their mothers' wombs!" It's OK to get all excited about a few bar fights and want to immediately take away the rights and freedoms of everyone but what about the rights of those unborn babies????

God......what a messed up society!!!!!!

Posted by: John at January 19, 2009 12:46 PM

PS.......gone to get me a stiff drink!!!!!! But not to worry....I'm a lover not a fighter!!!! LMAO

Posted by: John at January 19, 2009 12:47 PM

Merely, another invasion of your privacy another right taken away for the good of society.

As far as taking the drunk off the road, how many get one DUI ticket after another. Why because they continue to drive and the Law continues to plea down the charge. Damned defense lawyers again making their presence felt.

Posted by: Mark at January 19, 2009 12:57 PM

It is interesting that bars not cocktail lounges seem to be the worst about the brawls, I'm opposed to ANY, government interference and Darth you are spot on about MADD. It's about social engineering and government control. I don't frequent bars, seldom have a drink elsewhere and I've been in some real dives where violence prevailed. I don't like being around some immature asshole bully that wants to fight and invariably there is one in every bar, it brings out the best in me and I have to leave. It's the bar owners that should police their own turf not the government. Invasion of privacy and more regulations never stop the DUI or that barroom bully, personal responsibility is the only answer.

Posted by: Jack at January 19, 2009 02:58 PM

No excessive drinking? No Bar room Brawls? How are the Irish supposed to have any fun? My Grandmother wouldn't stand for this. God rest Her Soul. She was Irish, the Woman seriously knew how to drink. Anything except Pearl Beer LOL.

Posted by: JohnE PFC U.S. Army at January 19, 2009 03:26 PM

How else are the deadbeat brother-in-laws of the politicians going to find work if they aren't police spying on the public.

Whar they are really worried about is that the American revolution was organized in taverns. Now that the taxes are well over on the falling side of the Laffer curve they need to stop people from taking sample polls or the we might twig on to the fact that the ballot boxes are being stuffed. Oops too late.

Posted by: Avitar at January 19, 2009 03:33 PM

Many years go I served on a grand jury that processed hundreds of cases for our term of service. A large percentage involved alcohol-related situations including road accidents and fights, many vicious with serious injuries from various weapons, and almost all from drinking in bars. Try getting accurate testimony from people admitting to having ten and more drinks.

First and foremost, drunk drivers must be held responsible and punished more than they are today for their own actions. Second, bar owners should be held responsible for the results of any irresponsible drinking that they knowingly let happen in their establishment. Third, voluntary use of video cameras in bars would help police and juries sort out what really happened in many situations including clearing the bar owners of responsibility.

Posted by: Les at January 19, 2009 03:34 PM

James M., I agree I would pass on it too. Especially if it is the government wanting it.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:12 PM

Lynn, that is a good idea. Getting one of the construction workers that might want to earn some extra money. I agree too what do they want us to lose next.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:15 PM

Darth, add me to that "I survived Roe v. Wade 2009"

Good point Darth.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:17 PM

Yankeemom, I agree, especially when they are coming from big brother.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:19 PM

Tom, ditto all of that. I hope the bar owner stickes to his decision on this. He is the one to decide these things.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:21 PM

Steve Gaston, I am glad it all works out ok haha with the neighbors, that is great.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:26 PM

John, exactly, bar fights? Oh my gosh whatever happened to just a simple thing of a few bouncers. They used to be very common, in bars, nightclubs etc. No big deal.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:35 PM

John, and yessss enjoy your drink.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:37 PM

Mark, your so right, it is almost always the repeat offenders with DUI's.

And the other thing too, I am so leary of the invasion of your privacy into our lives.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:41 PM

Jack, your right....."It's the bar owners that should police their own turf not the government."

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:43 PM

JohnE PFC U.S. Army, hahaha that is great.

I was also wondering what the heck are they supposed to do on St. Paddy's day. Maybe chocolate milk...nah that will never work.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:46 PM

Avitar, that is interesting and I had forgotten about the taverns history like that. Thank you.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:49 PM

Les, as long as it is the bar owners idea and not something being forced on him.

Posted by: Wild Thing at January 19, 2009 06:56 PM