In recent months, violence in downtown Anchorage has been getting a lot of news coverage. The latest incident involved the death of a man who was severely assaulted on October 19th in a parking lot near the Gaslight Lounge.
“The community needs to come together, and come up with a comprehensive plan, not just try and get the bar owners individually to solve this whole problem because it's a community problem too,” said John Patee, owner of the Gaslight Lounge. “This is crime it's not bar crime, or restaurant crime or restaurant crime.”
Patee's bar is one of two establishments in downtown participating in what's known as safety hour, a measure the Anchorage Assembly enacted earlier this year. Bars that sign-up are allowed to stay open one hour later, as long as they don't serve alcohol.
“As we drop down to wintertime, I think you're going to see more bars signing up for this, so people don't have to be shoved out of bars, that they're able to call a cab, call a friend, and leave within that hour," said Dick Traini, Assembly Member.
The Assembly will have an option to renew the program after one year.
Patee says, "I think it's starting to work, people need to be educated on it.”
Traini says other measures such as adding more taxi loading zones are taking place now to expedite the process of getting people out of downtown when the bars close. Another proposal to equip cabs with security cameras could be voted on in November.