Just over a month after a stabbing death at KetMoRee led to community concerns, conversations and city council action to address the late night downtown bar scene, another incident has many in the community concerned.
The police report is vague at this point. On Saturday, the Davis Police began investigating a sexual assault that allegedly occurred at Community Park.
According to their account, “a female UC Davis student in her early twenties, met three males at Bistro 33 on Thursday night. She was subsequently taken to a park in Davis where all three suspects sexually assaulted her. Investigators believe the attack occurred in the vicinity of Community Park.”
The suspects are described as:
- A white male adult in his late 20s with a large build, shaggy/uncut brown or red hair, freckles on face, possibly wearing a red shirt and dark baseball hat;
- A mixed-race male in his late 20s to early 30s with a muscular build. He might be taller than the first suspect, and has short dark hair and a trimmed beard; and
- A white male adult in his late 20s.
Police Lt. Ton Phan told local media, “It’s a safe community, but yeah, we’ve had our share of violent crimes recently that have kept us busy.”
Mayor Dan Wolk told CBS 13 in Sacramento, “Enough is enough. We have a real problem here.” The news station reports that Mayor Wolk said that ‘he’s sick of hearing about crime increasing in Downtown, mostly after dark.’
The mayor sees this as an extension of the downtown party scene, a party destination in the region. He told CBS 13, “Our downtown is a certain way until around 10, 11, and then it becomes this different place.” He added, “I think everyone recognizes that we have an issue here and we have to address it.”
But, while the incident at KetMoRee had some simple answers, this incident is less clear cut. The measures that the city council is looking at – better security including wanding at night clubs, more foot patrols by police, better training and crowd control measures – do not seem likely to address this issue in this case.
From all accounts, the young lady met the men at Bistro 33. According to Assistant Police Chief Darren Pytel, the incident occurred after 11:30 pm. From all accounts, it appears she willingly left with the men.
It is not clear, therefore, that any of the proposed changes would have impacted this incident.
In response to the KetMoRee incident, bars, according to Darren Pytel, are actually moving in the right direction now. As Darren Pytel, the Assistant Chief of the Davis Police Department, explained, “The problem was no one wanted to take the first step.” The bars were afraid that if they imposed new regulations and the others didn’t that would put them at a competitive disadvantage.
However, with the tragedy at KetMoRee, and the pushback from the community and the city council, the bars are belatedly getting their act together. Already several have implemented wanding at their locations.
This has had some success as it has prevented several knives from going into the facilities. As Darren Pytel put it, “So it’s larger than just Blondies. It’s about all the locations working together to improve safety and also send a message that weapons in downtown are not ok.”
The problem is these measures clearly would not have prevented this type of incident.
The city council, two weeks ago, voted narrowly to allow Blondies to move forward with an exemption to the moratorium the council put in place in late September in response to the KetMoRee tragedy.
Blondies will have to contract with a licensed armed security provider, or most likely the city of Davis, to provide supplemental police services on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 pm to 1:30 am (half an hour after the close of business).
The location will fundamentally change the way they provide service – they have to be equipped with adequate numbers of seats, and food will be made available at all times.
Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis, during the discussion on Blondies, called it “a shot across the bow,” or telegraphing how “things are probably going to go,” in terms of potential new permanent regulations.
He added, “I was actually thinking we’re not creating a nightclub if we set the conditions the way they’re set here. We’re pointing a direction to a future that’s going to be fundamentally different.”
As he pointed out later, “There’s a certain balance that should be struck.”
We need more information about what happened at Bistro 33 before assessing fully whether this incident would have been avoidable. Until then, we need to better assess the full situation downtown rather than simply looking at late night clubs.
—David M. Greenwald reporting