(og VICE)

Police seem to have a prescribed identity... What is that identity, and is it positive? Before answering, I should be honest. I'm exclusively citing the identity many of my peers (myself included) have developed for law enforcement:

The sloppy over-weight harbinger of tribulation... P-I-G!!!

But recent events have altered my perspective. As of late, yours truly has been in regular contact with the "PIGS." The Vice squad has begun visiting us regularly. In a previous tour as manager in another bar, I wasn’t exactly excited about visits from Vice... It was a source of stress – the potential doom of irreversible criticism! Although things can changed... Here, at ELllD, we were introduced to vice through their precautionary measures – they came to us before a large event, going out of their way to ensure we were well informed on necessary procedures for such a party. This meeting set the tone for our relationship. Our staff's discourse regarding police began shifting from dissonance to appreciation. It was clear Vice had our interests in mind. Instead, they could've just as easily approached us the night of, slamming us on various errors, or worse: Suspend our liquor license (which is the core of my above mentioned dissonance)!!! Since then, the Vice team has visited regularly, and we regularly sit in a booth and have a long conversation about progress in the neighborhood. Through this agreeable dialogue, they've begun appreciating us. Their respect has allowed access to an invaluable resource: information! On multiple occasions, they've provided info about methods for safe and effective business. They randomly appear. With each random appearence, my stress is reduced more and more. Nowadays, I don't panic if they arrive, because I know they're going to coach us towards becoming a better business! They applaud our successes, and choreograph our improvements. On a recent weekend night, which happened to be bonkers, the Vice squad said that they were "proud" of our efforts, while also suggesting we make a minor adjustment: keep a guard in a certain location to decrease clogging the flow of patrons near the front door (which they indicated was a fire marshall no no). Bingo, right!?! An easy resolution as well as a pat on our back? Folks like this, who enjoy the good and question their surroundings, are always welcome at EL||D!

My next significant encounter with Police Influence on biz Growth (P.I.G.) was at the central division's community meeting... Not gonna lie, y'all - it was kinda nerve-racking walking into a police station. Why, though? Was it a sour taste left from a DISTANT experience :) Nevertheless, I cruised in with high hopes. But, it was a rocky start...

As I walk into the department, an officer greeted me from behind a huge desk. With a commanding tone, he asked, "You here for the community hearing?" Hearing...? What hearing? WTF? But, before I could effectively respond, the officer left his seat to press a button which made a crazy buzzing sound all while opening a door and commanding, "Down the hall to the left, take a right, then it's the first office, they're about to start!" I wasn't about to ask questions. I just started moving. Things would get better, though.

It was easy finding the office. Another officer helped me along the way. As I entered the room, a lieutenant (Stewart) stood and greeted me with handshake and smile, "Welcome to our meeting. There's plenty of seats. Make yourself at home!" So I did, grabbing a chair and a couple pamphlets addressing random info. Y'all, I cant tell you how much I learned that night... We discussed the crime trends in all kinds of different corners of East Village, as well as throughout the greater central division jurisdiction. It was enlightening, as well as disheartening... while documenting the goings-on, I couldn't help but notice the two officers wearing signs of fatigue (Lt. Stewart was later joined by Of. John Graham). They would begrudgingly cite a lack of department resources when answering our demands for more help. This sentiment made their presence appear as an obvious sacrifice. Each attendee was given an opportunity to speak their mind. Most criticized P.I.G.'s efforts. Some praised their work, though. When it was finally my turn (out of thirty or so, I was in the last couple speakers) I informed the group about my background. Then, I took a bit of a risk... I questioned the format of the meeting by suggesting the officers prepare a meeting agenda and a set of minutes from the last meeting (standard form in most meetings, right?). I argued that it would allow the audience to ask more questions and interact a bit more with their reports. I'm sure I made this claim due to the recent experiences with the vice squad. My argument was received well! They, understandingly, referenced lacking resources, but acknowledged the importance of such practices.

After that, I was comfortable and confident. I openly discussed my concerns. I announced that the meeting was a great opportunity for our neighbors to be critical of our business' conduct. Then I offered our bar as a venue for community fundraising events, knowing there were several community representatives in attendance.

After the meeting concluded, officer Graham approached me... He thanked me, and offered a friendly suggestion... Apparently, a police dog was severely injured on a recent arrest-gone-bad. Officer Graham claimed that Earp (the dog) was responsible for more arrests than any person on the force. They happened to be in need, and Of. Graham was willing to pass the info...


All I had to do was ask questions. That was the purpose of this meeting, anyways!! They wanted to give us info, we just needed to ask the right questions. Since then, I've contacted several friends in the service industry, advocating the benefit of this new relationship. My goal? Have a regular beat officer (or two) walking through our neighborhood - someone that local businesses can relate to, and foster goodwill towards. These people are responsible for our safety... they deserve a better identity than the sluggish and careless donut-devouring pig. My recent experiences would suggest another animal... But arguing the spirit animal for the popo is another post - I should more importantly discuss some biases...

I realize you might read this with a critical eye. After presenting my crusade for law enforcement advocacy, a customer recently exclaimed, "I know why you're doing this, Anthony! You're just trying to kiss ass! Also, do you really think your customers will support you?" Both were important critiques! But, of course, I must debate... For the purposes of time let's agree that "kissing ass" = fostering a positive impression using unethical means. Am I unethical in my approach? I am sincerely encouraging the the wholesome development of OUR NEIGHBORHOOD. Yes, our bar will benefit, but so will the rest of East Village. This leads to the second critique... Will anyone support us? I would hope so!! This pledge of advocacy stems from our core organizational values. We are, by nature, a member of an industry which focuses on serving and developing a positive community of forward-thinking patrons. People have/will continue to support our values, and our subsequent actions. By this definition, we're more like P.I.G.'s than we think, huh? To serve the community...

Like my previous post, I wanna finish with some questions:

Am I making a positive/negative move writing about the local Law Enforcement?
Should I reserve this conversation for closed doors?
Will others benefit from this story?
Will others care about this?
How could EL||D be most helpful for this community?
Can we help local Law Enforcement? How?

Thank you for reading! If you feel good/bad about my remarks let's discuss. The comment board is wide open. With your critique, the plan improves. If you're interested, I would be more than happy to have friends join me at the next Central Division community meeting. They really are a great opportunity to get connected with the folks who take care of us.

Thank you!

- A
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