SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

October 15, 2012

Our view: 'One Strike' a good first step for Salem

Given the troubles of the past few weeks and the rapidly intensifying Halloween madness, it was good to see two dozen restaurants and bars in downtown Salem step up to help keep the city’s streets safe for everyone.

Under the “One Strike You’re Out” program, anyone arrested or issued a no-trespass order by police at one of the participating restaurants will be barred from that establishment and all of the others for six months. Essentially, one serious transgression gets you banned from 24 businesses. Police will provide restaurants with fliers that include a photo of the offender.

The policy’s success depends on restaurants showing a united front against troublemakers, and not just kicking them out and sending them down the street to become someone else’s problem.

It’s also good to see Bangkok Paradise listed among the participating businesses, as police have linked the Washington Street restaurant to several recent late-night incidents. On Sept. 1, the Police Department’s entire shift responded to the restaurant when several fights erupted and a crowd of about 100 people spilled onto the street.

At a Licensing Board hearing last week, police Capt. Brian Gilligan called the crowds that gather outside the Bangkok “noncompliant, belligerent and bordering on violent, consistently.” A lawyer representing the bar owner said steps are being taken to rectify the problem.

The issue, however, isn’t limited to one location. Police have dealt with several skirmishes in the downtown, which attracts hundreds of young people on weekends. The number grows in October, when Halloween festivities attract out-of-town visitors.

As our Tom Dalton reported earlier this month, there have also been incidents of property damage and vandalism. Rouge Cosmetics on Derby Street, for example, has reported hundreds of dollars in damage to planters and shrubs.

Salem downtown has a well-deserved reputation as a great place for locals and visitors alike to spend a relaxing evening. With the recent rowdiness, it runs the risk of tarnishing that reputation. Fortunately, the restaurants involved in the One Strike initiative seem to be ready to take their responsibility seriously.

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