Our View – Police should fight crime, not business owners

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The City Council recently discussed a plan to stop selling alcohol in Arlandria at 11p.m. in order to curb crime in the area. By state law, the limit is midnight, but city officials are requesting that business owners give their voluntary cooperation regardless.

If the attempt succeeds, it would be an injustice not only to the law-abiding residents of the neighborhood, but also to the storeowners some of them small business owners who could lose profits.

The endeavor was initiated in 2006 when reports of disorderly conduct became frequent around 24 Express, a convenience store on Mt. Vernon Ave. At first, 24 Express was the only store in the area prohibited by the city to sell alcohol past 11 p.m. But the city is now contacting all alcohol retailers in the area to request their cooperation.

City officials believe a neighborhood-wide restriction will be fairer. And it will be, for the local small business owner of the 24 Express; he certainly could not have gained business during the last hour of each day as he competed with CVS, 7-Elevens and Giant, all of which are able to sell alcohol until midnight.

If the city gets what it wants, there will be a level playing field in Arlandria. But why should any business a local or a national chain suffer revenue losses from obeying a state law? It is the polices job to police the streets, not individual storeowners.

The city says participation in the 11 p.m. restriction is voluntary but if a business owner refuses to surrender an hour worth of alcohol revenue, the city could coerce them to do so legislatively, according to the city attorney. Volunteerism is not volunteerism if intimidation is a factor.

And what about the majority of residents in Arlandria who abide by the law? If one of them wants to enjoy a glass of wine after 11 p.m. he or she would have to travel outside of their neighborhood just to pick up a bottle. If someone wants a beer which is a perfectly legal wish chances are hell purchase some despite what amounts to a curfew on individual freedom.

Arlandria should not be treated as an elementary school classroom where the entire group gets punished because the class clown tells a dirty joke. Like Old Town or Del Ray, this is a city neighborhood with city residents. Neither its retailers nor residents deserve to be slighted.

When pubs in Old Town release at 2 a.m. on weekends, questionable conduct ensues consistently and almost inherently, but high police presence is palpable. Why not rely on the police to fight crime in Arlandria instead of relying innocent business owners?

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