Red and blue flashing lights may become a thing of the past in Old Town, as some bar owners are set to install a new ID-scanning system aimed at banning trouble makers from their establishments and reducing crime-related incidents.
This new program will record ID cards and photographs of patrons as they enter bars, helping owners to keep track of those who start fights and refuse them entrance or service.
As soon as someone is flagged in the system as partaking in destructive, unsafe or illegal behavior, other bars in the system are alerted as well.
The scanning database is seen as a preventative measure â€” one Dawn Nannini said was the next step for the Responsible Alcohol Retailers (RAR), a local self-governing group committed to the safe sale and service of alcohol.
Nannini, who works with the group through Team Fort Collins, said local bars involved with RAR have been participating in alcohol training classes and monthly ID checks since the groupâ€™s inception seven years ago.
And now, with the use of these scanners thriving in places like Colorado Springs, RAR hopes to test these successes in the Fort Collins community.
So far, 11 bars have volunteered to participate in what Nannini calls a â€œpilot project.â€
In light of recent incidents that took place after people had been drinking in Old Town, including a random drive-by shooting and the separate death of a Fort Collins man hit outside of a gyro stand, RARâ€™s mission has gained more attention and support.
â€œI think itâ€™s in everybodyâ€™s best interest to have a safe and enjoyable downtown after dark,â€ said Fort Collins Councilman Wade Troxell.
Among those supporters, Fort Collins Police Sgt. Jeremy Yonce also called the system a â€œgood toolâ€ for Old Town establishments.
â€œIt would give the bars something they donâ€™t have right now,â€ Yonce said. â€œThe liquor establishments already do a pretty darn good job right now, but itâ€™s still hard for them to manage everyone who comes to Old Town.â€
After submitting a purchasing request with the city, RAR hopes to raise the funds necessary for the system hardware, which can cost up to $2,000 per bar entrance.
Nannini said the non-profit group is currently looking for grants and other outside entities to provide the necessary funds, adding that she hopes to see the program implemented by winter.
But, with this new technology on the horizon, junior social work major and Ramskellar bartender Nicole Herrera, is unsure, calling the system â€œa little extreme.â€
â€œOnly a small amount of people cause trouble,â€ Herrera said. â€œI feel like it would just take a lot of time for the majority of people who donâ€™t cause problems.â€
Nannini said the goal is to help bar owners communicate through a database, not to change the Old Town experience. She said that the information taken by the scanning device will be exclusively used by participating establishments and not as public information.
â€œIt wonâ€™t change the experience of patrons, just provide an environment that is very clearly doesnâ€™t tolerate destructive behavior,â€ Nannini said. â€œWe are all just working together in this community to make it a safer place.â€
News Editor Erin Udell can be reached at email@example.com.