Davis council looks inward after a homicide in downtown bar

Dan Wolk
Dan Wolk .

It’s all too easy to become inured to violence, especially that which is alcohol-related.

But after young Peter Alexander Gonzales was stabbed to death at a Davis restaurant-bar shortly before closing time one early morning two weeks ago, the Davis City Council did a little collective introspection.

“We can’t just move on and pretend nothing happened,” Mayor Dan Wolk said. “Our actions need to back up our rhetoric.”

As told by The Bee’s Darrell Smith, the council this week imposed a 45-day moratorium on approval of new bars and nightclubs, while five young men faced homicide-related charges in Yolo Superior Court.

If only other jurisdictions had similar reactions. A person shouldn’t have to risk his or her life simply to go to a bar.

In the next 45 days, Davis City Council members and officials will try to develop preventative steps. Exactly what form that might take remains to be determined. But whatever it turns out to be, the action hardly will amount to prohibition.

Like any college town, Davis has its share of bars and restaurants. Whenever tens of thousands of young people gather, odds are they’re going to drink. Some will behave badly. But that’s not the issue.

In 2015, Davis police report a 15 percent increase in violence involving weapons.

During the past five years, five of the 26 establishments licensed to sell alcohol have accounted for 71 percent of 338 reported incidents, Assistant Police Chief Darren Pytel told a Bee editorial board member.

Cops would deal with fist fights in past years. In 2015, however, police have seen an increase in violence involving weapons. Police patrols are important, as is state enforcement of liquor laws. But pub owners have responsibility, too, and the city may need to step in.

Perhaps the council will decide to curtail hours of operation for nightclubs, or insist more be done to ensure underage patrons don’t stay after restaurant-bars stop serving food and morph into nightclubs.

Perhaps the city should insist that bartenders undergo training. Maybe, nightclubs should hire bouncers who have been properly trained, or security guards should use metal-detecting wands on patrons before admitting them.

For now, the moratorium will affect one application. The delay will be inconvenient for owners of the new restaurant-bar. Unfortunate though that is, better to endure a little red tape now, if the result is no need later for yellow crime-scene tape.

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