Police in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, are looking at data for the next year to determine whether closing times for establishments that have liquor licenses need to be altered.
As it stands, some bars have liquor licenses until 1 a.m. and others until 2 a.m. There are 40 liquor licenses total in the city. Fitchburg Police Chief Ernest Martineau said at first glance, a lot of their service calls are between the hours of 1 and 2. He wants to collect data of car crashes, bar violations and last call reports to see if there is reason to believe people are rushing from the bars closing at 1 to the ones closing at 2 to get another drink, or if there are fewer issues if the bars close at 1.
"We are not trying to hurt or hinder any business. We are business friendly here in Fitchburg, but public safety comes above any business venture. We are just going to collect and look at the data and see what it says. No decision has been made yet," said Chief Martineau.
If you ask Walter Kirby, who's owned Partner's Pub for 32 years, he said he's not opposed to a closing time, whether it's at 1 or 2, but he said being opened until 2 has been good for business. He's seen lots of people come to his establishment for one more drink before its time to go home. He doesn't mind a uniform closing time, but would prefer if everyone closed at 2 so he can stay competitive with surrounding cities.
"It may take business from Fitchburg to other towns. We have cars on the road going further late at night," said Kirby.
Legends Bar and Grill has a 2 a.m. liquor license, but is willing to close earlier.
"I mean, get the people inside after 1 o'clock, I don't think there is any real reason to be out and about," said Kelly Schultz.
Schultz has owned Legends for five years and said her focus is family friendly atmosphere with good American food. Of course, there is beer available, but she's not looking to have a late night crowd unless it’s to enjoy their live music.
For the next year the police department will gather crash data, last call reports, and violations for all of their 40 establishments to see if they should make a change for a uniform closing time and what time that should be.
"Nothing is set in stone, but if the data says this is something I should pursue, then I'm going to pursue it in the interest of public safety," said Chief Martineau.