TWIN FALLS — Police asked officials this week to cut Bumpin Bernie’s hours because officers are being called to the after-hours bar too often. But commissioners said police didn’t provide enough proof the bar is to blame and will allow Bernie’s to stay open late.
The request initially came to the Planning and Zoning Commission in October, when the bar was given more time to tackle problems in its back parking lot. Police Sgt. Kevin Loosli told the commission that Bumpin Bernie’s got a lot more calls to its business compared with other bars in town.
But Bernie’s has worked to resolve some of the issues — hiring more security, and installing back lighting, signage and security cameras.
“I think he’s making an attempt to improve the situation, but I also think we could continue monitoring to make sure that’s going to continue,” Commissioner Ryan Higley said.
Commissioner Craig Hawkins agreed.
“It sounds to me like he’s really trying to improve,” he said. “A lot of it is out of his control.”
Loosli said police received 16 calls for service at 139 Shoshone St. N. between Oct. 24 and early December. Not all of those calls could be attributed directly to the business.
But some were. A few were noise complaints from other property owners, and a fight just a few days after the public hearing appeared to have started with an argument inside the bar.
“It escalated outside,” Loosli said. “The majority of issues occur in the parking lot.”
Most bar fights, he noted, are outside the establishments.
Bumpin Bernie’s is the only business in the area open past 1:30 a.m. — three nights a week, when it becomes a dance club and hookah lounge after it stops serving alcohol. Loosli argued that the business being open naturally attracts the people to the parking lot who are causing problems after 1:30 a.m., when about half of the calls occur.
He could not say that calls after 1:30 a.m. were for more violent or worse crimes than before that time. Nor did Loosli give commissioners a better estimate for the number of calls directly caused by the bar.
“I am a little bit concerned that no one else came to support this potential action,” Chairman Tom Frank said, noting the lack of complaints from other businesses.
No one spoke in favor or against the request other than the applicant and the bar owner.
Burhan Hetemi, co-owner of Bumpin Bernie’s, said winter is the bar’s busiest time of year. Yet since business has picked up in recent weeks, there have been no incidences at the bar, he said.
“We’re a very respectful family and we respect others,” he said.
His father, Afrim Hetemi, said he needs more lighting in the back parking lot. The lot is owned by the Urban Renewal Agency, and may come up for improvements next year.
In the meantime, police could be asked to monitor the situation closely in the future, and come back with solid data that could show more definitively what impacts the bar has on police calls.