make WWAY your homepage  Become a fan on facebook  Follow us on twitter  Receive RSS Newsfeeds  MEMBERS: Register | Login

New year, old problems downtown

READ MORE: New year, old problems downtown

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Downtown Wilmington safety is back in the spotlight, as the start of the new year saw several fights as bars closed their doors. Police say numerous fights broke out around closing time early Saturday morning.

Today we talked with several people connected with downtown to see what they think is the key to solving the downtown safety issue. From local leaders to bar staff it seems like everyone has their own solution to the problem.

John Hinnant with Wilmington Downtown Inc says the number of bars in one area is a big concern. He thinks focusing on the density issue will disperse the number of people in one given area.

We also talked with a bouncer from a downtown bar, who thinks the key is more law enforcement.

"What we need is more officers riding around, walking around actually will be better," Craig Shepherd said. "The city needs to redirect their monies more toward public safety and concern especially when we're generating the type of revenue we are downtown."

Shepard said he has seen a lot of arguments downtown that have been stopped before an actual fight just by an officer stepping in and telling people to go home.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


A beautiful downtown is wasted....

no pun intended, by catering to the college-aged, rap-listening, tattooed crowd. (haha, I know this will cause some people to get po'd)...but it's true. The downtown is beautiful and could be as vibrant as Old Town, Alexandria or downtown Charleston, but nooooo, there are mostly kiddie bars and "private clubs" and NO place for 30+, 40+, or 50+ people. There are a few nice restaurants and shops but overall downtown at night is a low budget movie with a mix of college kids and low lifes looking to "partay"...then they listen to a bunch of crap "music", get drunk, and surprise, they get in fights! ABC licenses should be pulled, "private" clubs should be shut down, someone who knows how to create a vibrant downtown should advise the goons on city council (and the goons should be voted out this year) and downtown could be a safe, fun and exciting destination for everyone. I was just in Old Town Alexandria last week and over the last 40 years (since it got liquor by the drink in 1971) it's gotten better and better instead of sliding into an abyss.

First of all, since the bars

First of all, since the bars are the root of the problem, they should be the ones paying for police services, not the citizens who are home or elsewhere minding their own business. Issue tickets when entering the bar like is done at many private parties to limit the number of drinks one person can buy. Prosecute any bartender who "overserves" anyone alcohol. Limit the number of bars. If all else fails, as someone else mentioned the other day, build a large fenced in structure, let all the alcoholics go there, let them get pure crap-faced drunk and beat each other to a greasy pulp. Not much will be lost.

Same ol' Same ol'

Wah Wah Wah!!!! I have been many places around the world. Guess waht bars=drunks=fights!!! Plain and simple. I am tired of people berating downtown!!!!! I lived downtown for over six years and it is a great place to live, I love it!!!! I only moved away for a quiet place to raise my newborn. The fire station and traffic noise nothing else.
Every place I have been to has a sufficient police present to help reduce, not eliminate, reduce problems. If our philandering government reps would do the jobs they were elected to do we would have sufficient funds to provide a police presence when needed.
Bars=money plain and simple. without them downtown would flounder. So once again for the people who put down our downtown area, which you probably do not even visit, stay home!!!!
Each drunk person is responsible for their own actions, blame them!!!

Correct me if I'm wrong...sure someone will

But are restaurants under obligation to STOP SERVING INTOXICATED, OR WHAT THEY DEEM INTOXICATED patrons? If someone is drunk, stop serving them. Who is responsible for any accident or death from said intoxicated person? maybe a few stings in these restaurants and the problem will slow.


Its the bars responsibility they can be heavily fined or lose their license for serving overly intoxicated people. However, have you ever stepped foot into a busy bar? You have 40 people crammed against a small area trying to get a drink. Far cry from Cheers. Bartenders work non-stop and they still have maybe 5 seconds of contact with a patron. Even if you do cut one off, they disappear back into the bar and their friends bring them the drinks.

Beef up existing law

1. Put undercover ALE agents into bars. When obviously intoxicated patrons are served, shut it down, arrest the person serving the drunk, and keep it closed for a few weeks.You can do a LOT using existing ALE laws and requirements. Administrative shut-downs REALLLLLY hurt the owner's wallet.

2. As another person said, ZERO tolerance. Anyone who was anywhere near Fayette-nam in the Sixties and Seventies knows that Fayetteville PD did not put up with one speck of crap. If you were drunk in public, it was no big deal. The first time your a**hole gene kicked in, you were arrested.. If you were in a fight, you got arrested. If you gave any lip to the officer, you got arrested. BTW, in the process of getting arrested, you rarely avoided a few um....contusions, abrasions, and blunt force injuries. You did not mess with Fayetteville PD. San Diego, CA was the same way. Let the word get out that WPD will not put up with any nonsense and will bust heads when appropriate, and behavior improves remarkably.

3. Increase the penalties for public intoxication, drunk and disorderly, assault, and resisting arrest. As it is now, there are practically no penalties for this behavior beyond a nominal fine. If the laws are changed and the first drunk and disorderly leads to twelve consecutive weekends in county lock-up, behavior will improve remarkably.


ZERO TOLERANCE from WPD. Use the laws that are in place. Disorderly conduct and Intoxicated and disruptive. If the police would enforce these laws and lock up these snot nosed idiots then that would cure the problem. Curse or use profanity in anyway to provoke another person then you are gone. The police have to do it and not be afraid to use the tools they have. Or we can go back to the late 80's early nineties and let the bouncers do their jobs without fear of getting arrested or sued.

Not enough officers for that....

The only problem is one arrest = one officer off the street dealing with his new charge. Busy nights it might take 2-3 hours to get them through the magistrate and processed so the officer can get back onto the street. Despite a crackdown last year, you still have to go out of your way to get arrested downtown. Simply not enough officers and even less that want to go through the hassle of reports instead of just telling a drunk to move along.


Men + women + booze = brawls

Need I say more?

they should have more police

they should have more police on foot & horse. The money going to fake grass at legion stadium would be better spent for this

An idea

The Wilmington Police Department has an auxiliary program where officers work part-time in an un-paid capacity. The problem is WPD won't add officers to that program. The only expense would be uniforms and weapons. The officer could pick up a radio at the station when they check on. If they would use this program more that could put more officers downtown on weekend nights. The program would serve two purposes that would benefit everybody involved: 1) Downtown would have more police presence to try to deter problems and 2) It would hold the certifications of those officers while waiting to see if they can be hired in full-time, either by WPD or another agency. But since it makes sense they won't do it.

Sounds Perfect

Sounds perfect. A whole bunch of poorly trained officers who aren't officially attached to any agency yet wearing WPD uniforms. I can't see any harm in that, especially with all the high pressure situations that form downtown between drunks.

Try to read all the words, Brock

They would be fully sworn police officers working for WPD. The only difference is they are not paid, therefor it is a cost savings to the city. Once you graduate from BLET you have 1 calendar year to be hired or your certification expires. In today’s budget not many departments are doing any hiring so somebody that graduated in the beginning of 2010 is coming close to losing their certification. This plan would put more officers on the streets and wouldn't cost anything other than equipment.

I did read it

And I still see no training. I see a certification of BLET - which isn't hard to get at all. How many WPD officers go straight to the street after getting their BLET?

WPD officers spend several months working as cadets and then riding as a trainee before they ever truly count as an officer. A majority of the time you see two WPD officers in a single vehicle its because one is a FTO and one isn't fully sworn in yet. I work with them and it takes awhile to get that trainee to the point where they are full fledged officer that can respond to calls without direct supervision.

The auxiliary program is used actively by CB and KB, but a vast majority of the aux officers are former full-time officers. Not untrained BLET wannabes.

Look again then

Of course the officer would be with a FTO. It is silly to even think otherwise. It is also silly to say one isn't "fully sworn." That is close to "kind of pregnant." Either you are or you are not. An officer is sworn in before hitting the streets, has the full powers of arrest as a 20 year veteran does.
Just because you take an officers lunch order doesn't mean you work with them. And if it is so easy to get a BLET certificate, why don't you?


An officer is fully sworn the day they put their hand on the Bible and are given an oath by a magistrate or judge. That is called "Swearing in." Now they possess a probationary certificate while undergoing training. How better to get training then to be in a hot spot with their training officer?
You say it isn't hard to get a certification? Have you done it? I doubt it, but maybe. You can even say you have but that doesn't mean it is true. Heck, I could claim I'm a chief of a department. Otherwise you wouldn't make cracks such as BLET wannabes. And washing officers cars doesn't mean you work with them.
All three beaches in New Hanover County, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Sheriff's Office and WPD use auxiliary programs. Some department use it more than others and that then leads us back around that it would be a cost savings.


I have to agree that a recent BLET grad is far from a fully trained law enforcement officer that should be turned lose on the downtown streets during the overnight hours. There is certainly a place for the auxiliary program and WPD may or may not be using the program to its full ability, but many things are not as simple as the public would like to assume.

Two are better than?

So you don't believe a training officer and an auxiliary officer in training could do more than if only the full-time officer were there?

don't need more cops

we need better bar tenders and a dress code.

99% of the college kids that go downtown are already drunk, they have been drinking before hand with friends and don't want to pay for the high priced drinks downtown and lets face it ...the college crowd owns downtown .

how do i know this i drove and cab for 7 years and around 10 o'clock all the kids go downtown town.

really at night there is no place for the over 30 crowd to go too.

but anyway yeah if the bartenders would say look you had enough ...then people wouldn't be so overly drunk and disorderly ...and that goes for the angry drunks.

if alcohol law enforcement would crack down on bars that serve underage kids it would also help.

also another thing if they would enforce a dress code then maybe fights wouldn't revolve around ladies dressed so provocatively know the ones dress like naughty nurses on Halloween, cept it's January.

because 99.99% of the time all these fights revolve around women and booze.

Your Clueless

Dude, your clueless, 99.9% of the fights do not start becuase women where next to nothing, if anything that keeps the guys busy instead of fighting. The problem is, you have a bunch of young dumb i wanna be the man type that think because someone accidently bumps in to them they have to prove themselves by throwing a punch. What needs to happen, is they need to stop serving the undreage, agreed, secondly, they should have 2 cops on every block that has a bar, if there are 10 bars on the block, place 6 cops. Then, downttown needs to get rid of the low life bars, we all know which ones im referring to. Also, the club themselves should do a better job of maintaining a safe enviroment, instead of tossing 2 parties in the street that have already been fighting in the bar, they should immediatley call the officer to the door and press charges, the more peole that catch charges are less likely to do it again in comparison to the idiots that attack peole then the cops say oh well your all drunk just go home, no, they should arrest the aggresors!

Yes, we are clueless... please help us understand...

Exactly which establishments do you consider low life bars???

Fewer Bars! Less Alcohol!

Taxpayers do not need to pay for more law enforcement in dirty, drunken-college-kids downtown Wilmington.

Instead, some of these bars need to be shut down, and the price of alcoholic beverages should be taxed exhorbitantly.

The owners of these bars have been getting away with murder for years. How many young people have gotten fueled up on alcohol in a bar, gotten behind the wheel and killed themselves or someone else.

The same strict laws that are directed at smoking should be directed at the consumption of alcohol.

Try something different.

Maybe if all of the nightclubs were spread out around town. In the 1990's nightclubs were in various parts of town instead of just being lumped downtown. There was a place at MarketPlace mall then another on College and Oleander and also at Shipyard and CBR etc.
You didn't have large groupings of people because they were spread out all around town. I also think it would help the cab service because they will be running routes in several directions instead of just away from downtown.
Cut down on the density.

yeah its the bar owners

yeah its the bar owners fault these people drink and drive you need to grow you have no clue its the person drinking fault not the bar owner and i can tell you live in a glass house and a bubble