Late bar hours recommended despite rise in crime

Posted at 10:19 PM, Feb 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-16 22:53:31-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Extended bar hours in Cape Coral are closer to sticking around!

Tuesday night the Cape Redevelopment Agency recommended to keep bars in the South Cape open until 4 AM.

This comes despite a newly released study by the Cape Coral Police Department showing crime is on the rise since extending hours.

Cape police say on two separate occasions drunk people left the South Cape and went to Denny's, leading to 911 calls. But despite an increase in crime, police say they're open to continuing 4 AM last call.

Cape Police Chief Bart Connolly says calls for service increased 3% since the bar hours were extended to 4 AM

Take a look at the numbers --12 more disorderly conduct arrests and 39 more DUI arrests.

Chief Connolly says the numbers are manageable if manpower is added or shifted to this area.

In terms of dollar signs, the Cape's Economic Development Office says the two bars participating, Dixie Roadhouse and Backstreets, have seen sales up 23%.

Lynn Pippenger, the owner of Dixie Roadhouse, says it's not just late night. "We are seeing an increased number of patrons earlier and we're seeing them move around South Cape. So we're happy that they are coming to us after they've gone to dinner or gone to a drink somewhere else,” she says.

She also says the extended bar hours are changing the perception of South Cape, Councilman Richard Leon agrees.

"We're willing to go outside the box step forward and say this might be a possibility let’s try it. And that's what you've seen tonight. You've seen a possibility a year ago dream that said maybe this could work, and it looks like it's working,” he said.

Chief Connolly does say when it's closing time at the South Cape bars they have to pull officers from other areas of the Cape to assist, leaving those spots less protected. So he wants to work on fixing that if this program continues.