‘Do Not Disturb!’: Morristown police start laying down the law with extra bar patrols

By Berit A. Ollestad

As promised by Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty, four additional police officers were walking the downtown on Friday and Saturday nights, the first installment of eight weekends of beefed-up bar patrols funded by the town.

Crowd outside the Dark Horse Lounge at closing time, early Saturday. Extra police took to the streets to ensure an orderly dispersal. Photo by Berit Ollestad

Crowd outside the Dark Horse Lounge at closing time, early Saturday. Extra police took to the streets to ensure an orderly dispersal. Photo by Berit Ollestad

The extra patrols are meant to address residents’ complaints about disturbances from the large bar crowds coming to town on weekends. The town council soon will start exploring ways to make bar owners pay for the added enforcement.

Police Chief Pete Demnitz was on the scene Friday until closing time to gain a better understanding of what’s needed. According to the chief, five citations were written that night for public urination.

Saturday night was quieter than usual, the chief said, except for a drunk driving summons that included an arrest and assault charges against the driver for  “using a motor vehicle to try and run down a police officer.”

Based on his observations Friday, Demnitz said he posted officers at the entrance to the DeHart Street parking garage and adjacent piazza with orders to “instruct (bar) patrons to go quietly to their cars because there were residents nearby that we didn’t want to disturb.”

“I can understand why residents are having issues with noise,” the chief said. “Clearly, you get a bunch of guys hollering in the parking garage and it definitely echoes.”

Demnitz expressed confidence that with vigilance and consistency, the town will start to see the situation improve downtown.

“We initiated a plan to address the issues that residents have brought before the council and I wanted to assure the mayor that it is being implemented properly,” the chief said. The police plan will evolve “as a result of what we learn.”

Demnitz added that the department is gearing up for increased enforcement of noise ordinances for the 4th of July week.

Photos by Berit Ollestad. Please click icon below for captions.



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