Annual liquor license review shows drop in serious crime incidents downtown

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 6, 2013

ROCHESTER — The city saw a slight decrease in serious crime incidents in 2012 for many of the establishments that serve liquor in the city, according to Police Chief Steve Schettenhelm.

Rochester reviews all of its on-premise liquor licenses annually, giving recommendations on their renewal to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. The MLCC normally follows the city’s recommendation on whether to renew a license, although the final decision is ultimately up to them.

On Feb. 25, the City Council reviewed the police activity over the last year for Penny Black, Rojo, Meeting House, Mama Mia’s, Fuse Lounge, O’Connor’s Public House, Limelight Sports Pub & Grill, Main Street Billiards, Sumo Sushi, Kruse and Muer, Mr. B’s, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Hibachi House, Blackbird Bistro, Sahrazad Mediterranean Grille, Rochester Chop House, Rochester Mills Beer Co, Royal Park Hotel and the Paint Creek Tavern, and unanimously renewed all of the city’s currently operating liquor licenses.

“I’m pleased to report that none of the entities that were reviewed for this report are delinquent on their taxes, so from a finance perspective, they checked out,” City Manager Jaymes Vettraino said.

The liquor license review report, which was included in the Feb. 25 City Council agenda packet, shows how many police calls occurred at each establishment and what they were for.

While the report shows everything from the number of alarm runs and bar checks, to the number of assaults and fights, the main concern for police is the number of serious crime incidents — including assaults, disorderly conduct incidents, fights, and reports of trouble with a customer.

Main Street Billiards had the highest number of serious crime incidents reported in the last year — including six assaults, 17 trouble-with-customer reports, six disorderly conduct incidents, and three fights — but overall, Schettenhlem said the establishment’s liquor report numbers were down this year.

“(Main Street Billiards) is down considerably from what it used to be, so we’ve made some progress in that area,” he said.

Schettenhelm said most of the incidents in the liquor report happened inside and were directly related to each establishment, but he explained that some may have happened outside an establishment and were included in a business’s count because they were reported to police by staff inside.

“The one thing to never lose sight of is … sometimes (an incident is listed) because the establishment is calling us, and we always want to continue to have that type of working relationship where they will not be afraid to call us to assist them with problems for fear that it looks bad on the report,” he said.

He noted that police are constantly keeping an eye on suspicious activity in the city’s parking lots, especially behind establishments serving liquor.

“Its something that we’re always watching, and working on, and were certainly not bashful to communicate with an establishment if we see a particular problem,” he said.

Others with more than one serious crime incident include Mr. B’s with one assault, three reports of trouble with a customer and one fight; and the Royal Park Hotel with one trouble-with-customer report and one assault incident.

The good news, according to Schettenhelm, is the numbers in the report went down this year, across the board.

“The actions of the officers on the road, and (the city’s liquor) ordinance, and our work to try to work with those establishments, has kind of brought the numbers down to where they are now,” he added. “I believe we’re taking the steps to make sure that everybody that visits downtown enjoys their visit and does so safely.”