By Carol McCracken (Post # 479)
Police Chief James Craig announced new initiatives that will address the type of violence that occurred last weekend in Portland when a 24 year old man Eric Benson was struck and died in Monument Sqaure. The press conference was held in Monument Square this afternoon as well.
Starting this weekend, two new technical strategies will be introduced. The first is a “text-a-tip and pic” strategy – when an offender(s) is identified by a bar owner as disorderly, this information will be exchanged between participating bars and the police immediately. When this information is forwarded the offender(s) can expect to be denied access to other participating bars and contacted by the police. Chief Craig said he’s not aware of other areas in the country using text messaging in this way.
The other new use of technology is the Field Fingerprint Scanner which allows police to scan a person’s fingerprints in the field for an immediate comparision in the AFIS database; when appropriate. Additionally, Chief Craig announced that the number of police patrolling the Old Port will be doubled, although he would not give a number. He said there will be a special emphasis on “drinking in public, assaults, public urination and disorderly conduct which includes fighting.”
Doug Fuss, chairman of the Nightlife Oversite Committee (N-LOC) and owner of Bull Feeneys, said that the bar owners have been meeting on a monthly basis for years to share information. “There is a structure already in place. What is new is the technology. It is so discouraging when violent acts happen. We try so hard to make the Old Port safe for everyone.”
Bob Waitkevitch, owner of the bar Fore Play said its the vast minority of people who cause the vast majority of problems.
“When we see a group looking for trouble, we try to let other bar owners know. We want to make the Old Port the safest place anywhere.”