BY MATT TROUTMAN
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Wilson’s Antiques manager Jane Strauser hopes to receive fewer 2 a.m. phone calls this summer that detail bad news about her Union Street business.
Last August she received an early morning call that two drunken brawlers had tumbled through the shop’s front display window. Now Strauser has her fingers crossed that an effort by city police and bar owners to curb booze-fueled violence and destruction in the 100 block of Union Street will pay off before she has to pay out.
“I’m tired of having to call insurance companies and have to pay $1,000 deductibles when these men get drunk and have to fight,” she said.
But so far, not so good. Strauser said drunken hooligans recently broke the front window of the Bookie Joint across the street.
Traverse City Police Capt. Brian Heffner said last summer’s string of disturbances led police and city officials to reach out to bars for a more proactive enforcement approach to make sure such events are the exception rather than the rule. He said police encouraged bar owners and employees to call dispatch before fights occur, rather than after.
“The result is we respond to calls more often, but we also see a decrease in fights and damaged property,” he said. “I think the bar owners were hesitant in the beginning to contact the police because they didn’t want the perception to be they’re part of the problem and not the solution.”
The owners of Union Street Station, Bootleggers and Dillinger’s bought into the new approach when they proposed a meeting of all bar owners in and around the 100 block of Union Street to discuss better lines of communication with police. Heffner said police perform more “directed patrols” in downtown areas over the summer in general.
“This time of year the school resource officer puts on a uniform and works in areas downtown where we need the most help.”
Police also are freed to increase patrols along Union Street or in other busy areas like the bayfront volleyball courts.
Grand Traverse County 911 Director Jamel Anderson said night shift dispatchers this summer have so far seen an improvement from Union Street from last year.
“They are receiving less calls,” she said.