Going into Weekend, Police Increase Patrols, Monitor Shorter Valet Hours
Birmingham is also moving forward with charges against a Redford woman who fired a weapon into the air on April 2 and a teen who was found carrying a rifle downtown.
As Birmingham Police gear up for another busy weekend and despite several recent high-profile incidents downtown, police say they aren't worried that this year will be any worse for crime.
"We go through this every year when it gets warm," Birmingham Police Cmdr. Terry Kiernan said. "We always increase the number of foot patrols downtown while trying to be prepared."
The city is still figuring out how to deal with a spate of incidents at downtown bars and restaurants, beginning with a 29-year-old Redford woman who shot a gun into the air after a fight outside South Bar on April 2.
Other recent incidents include fights outside Chen Chow Brasserie and in the bar area at the Hamilton Room and a cab driver who was beaten up April 8 after customers from The Corner Bar refused to pay him.
The spotlight continued to shine on Birmingham late last week, when Birmingham police arrested 18-year-old Troy High School senior Sean Michael Combs. Combs refused to show identification after he was found carrying a loaded M1 Garand rifle near South Old Woodward and Merrill.
Combs, who has hired an attorney and is not speaking to the media, is being charged with disorderly conduct, brandishing a firearm and obstructing an officer. He is set to be arraigned May 2.
Meanwhile, the Redford woman accused of firing a gun outside South will likely be charged with reckless discharge of a firearm, a 90-day misdemeanor, Kiernan said. Kiernan said police will likely turn the case over to the city's attorney's office, though, not the prosecutor's office.
Bars still assessing impact of shorter valet hours
In addition to increased enforcement levels all weekend long, this will be the second weekend with valet services ending at midnight at South Bar, Chen Chow and the Hamilton Room – two hours before their usual weekend closing times.
Shutting down valet service early was meant to be a way to dispel crowds that tend to form outside bars after closing, according to City Manager Bob Bruner.
"The philosphy behind it is, if you have a large number of people, and they're all standing outside waiting for their cars, they're more likely to get in a fight than they would be walking back to their cars," Bruner said, adding that the city and police will be monitoring the situation and make changes as necessary.
All three bars and restaurants are still assessing how the shorter valet hours will impact their customers. The shorter hours could cause more problems instead of solving them, said Bethany Spadafore, general manager at South and wife of the restaurant's co-owner Joseph Spadadore.
"In fact, we received numerous complaints from people (about the valet hours)," she said.