Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to assaults in and around bars, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Requirements
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Enlisting community support for addressing the problem Establishes joint ownership of the problem …there is sufficient public interest in and political support for addressing the problem Requires a high degree of project management to sustain coalitions over time
2 Implementing multifaceted, comprehensive strategies Addresses many of the known risk factors that contribute to assaults …responses are properly implemented (in the right sequence and strength) Difficult to isolate the effect of specific interventions; requires a high degree of project management
3 Getting cooperation and support from bar owners and managers Prevents displacement of the problem; prevents perceptions of unfairness; addresses problems at lower-risk bars …there are mechanisms to enforce agreements, and regulators acknowledge the legitimacy of owners' profit motive Rogue operators can easily undermine cooperative agreements
4 Informally monitoring bar policies and practices Identifies high risk locations and practices; enforces cooperative agreements; monitors progress and effectiveness …participating bar owners cooperate and support the oversight system; constructive feedback is offered to participating bar owners, along with potential solutions Lacks the force of law; requires a high degree of project management
5 Formally regulating and enforcing relevant liquor-licensing laws Motivates owners/ managers to adopt and enforce responsible serving policies and practices …done in conjunction with more cooperative and voluntary efforts, and enforcement is consistent, routine, and perceived to be fair Labor-intensive and costly; increases rates of detected and reported offenses
Reducing Alcohol Consumption
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
6 Establishing responsible-beverage-service programs Addresses a range of risk factors, especially reducing drunkenness levels …servers, managers, and owners are provided with concrete examples of responsible practices; combined with sanctions and enforcement Evidence of effectiveness is mixed; requires enforcement to be taken seriously; costly to establish
6a Monitoring drinking to prevent drunkenness Reduces drunkenness levels …servers know how to detect intoxication, they have sufficient incentives to stop serving, and there is adequate opportunity to monitor patrons Refusing service to intoxicated patrons can instigate aggression; difficult to monitor drinking in large bars
6b Providing reduced-alcohol or nonalcoholic beverages Reduces drunkenness levels …patrons will drink reduced- or nonalcoholic beverages Some bar owners may be reluctant to stock reduced-or non-alcoholic beverages, believing they are less profitable
6c Prohibiting underage drinking Prevents drunkenness of vulnerable population …jurisdiction has identification cards that are difficult to falsify Easy to provide false proof of age in some jurisdictions
6d Providing reduced-alcohol or nonalcoholic beverages Reduces drunkenness levels …patrons will drink reduced- or nonalcoholic beverages Some bar owners may be reluctant to stock reduced-or non-alcoholic beverages, believing they are less profitable
6e Requiring or encouraging food service with alcohol service Reduces drunkenness levels; attracts a more diverse, less aggressive clientele; creates a calmer atmosphere …patrons will buy and eat food, and food service is adequate so as not to create additional frustration and conflict Increases costs to licensees, but does not necessarily reduce profitability
6f Discouraging alcohol price discounts Reduces volume of consumption …all bars are prohibited from discounting prices Easily undermined by the pressures of business competition; potential legal restrictions to price agreements
7 Establishing and enforcing server liability laws Provides incentives for servers to control excessive consumption …there is sufficient community support for liability laws, and laws are enforced adequately Difficult to establish server’s knowledge of drunkenness; judgments are rare
8 Reducing the concentration and/or number of bars Reduces barhopping; reduces the potential for conflicts at closing time …the concentration and/ or number of bars is high Not conclusively proven effective at reducing violence levels
Making Bars Safer
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
9 Training staff to handle patrons nonviolently Reduces levels of aggression; encourages staff to intervene before assaults occur …there are high- quality training programs available; skill development is emphasized; real-world scenarios are used Increases costs to either licensees or local government to administer training; training is often of poor quality
10 Establishing adequate transportation Reduces numbers of drunken people on streets after closing hours; reduces competition for transportation …the transportation infrastructure is adequate to the demand May increase costs to local government
11 Relaxing or staggering bar closing times Reduces the concentration of drunken people on streets after closing hours …there are multiple bars in the area, with large crowds Requires legislation to authorize; seems counterintuitive and therefore easily opposed
12 Controlling bar entrances, exits, and immediate surroundings Reduces the entry of underage, drunken, and belligerent patrons; reduces barhopping; controls conflict at key locations …the security staff is properly trained and nonaggressive, and patrons often get into conflicts in the alleys and parking lots outside bars May increase short-term costs to licensees (for security staff, surveillance cameras, lighting)
13 Maintaining an attractive, comfortable, entertaining atmosphere in bars Reduces the frustration and boredom that can precipitate aggression …bar owners are willing to invest in maintenance and entertainment Increases short-term costs to licensees
14 Establishing and enforcing clear rules of conduct for bar patrons Reduces the potential for conflicts among patrons; promotes a calmer atmosphere …bar owners have sufficient incentives to promote peaceful and legal conduct May run counter to patrons’ expectations and desires
15 Reducing potential weapons and other sources of injury Reduces the likelihood and/or severity of injury …bar owners know where to buy safer materials May increase short-term costs to licensees
16 Communicating about incidents as they occur Permits early intervention in potentially violent …all local bars participate; police are included Need to distinguish between incidents that require police response and those that do not
17 Banning known troublemakers from bars Removes high-risk offenders from situations where altercations are likely …police and bar management cooperate to identify banned patrons, and enforce the terms of the banishment Legal restrictions; may be difficult to ensure compliance from bar owners if regular customers are banned
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
18 Using extra police patrols in and around bars Intended to deter assaults and allow police to intervene in disputes Little evidence in the research that extra police presence is effective or efficient
19 Marketing responsible consumption and service practices Intended to heighten general awareness of the problem and discourage excessive consumption Excessive-consumption- warning campaigns do not appear effective; irresponsible marketing can be used to identify high-risk bars
20 Prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol Reduces consumption Difficult to obtain widespread public support; reduces the positive effects of social drinking; creates illegal and potentially violent black markets