Casper Council Hears Successes and Failures of Open Container Areas
At the Casper city council meeting on Tuesday, the chief of police Keith McPheeters talked to council about how the open container areas over the past summer went, and where changes could be made.
In a memo put out by the city manager's office, they detail numerous ways in which the open container ordinance over this past summer didn't go as planned.
McPheeters said that police officers didn't see to many people out after 9 P.M. and suggested council close down the open container area sooner, so that the police department doesn't have to spend more money patrolling the streets specifically for the open container issue.
Also at the meeting McPheeters requested an additional $25,000 increase to the police budget to account for the extra pay that they would have to give officers who were keeping an eye on things during the open container times.
While council member Steve Cathey asked the chief why there would be a need for that increase, considering the memo also reported that there was very little crime during those time periods.
McPheeters responded by saying that it could be that because of the police presence there that there was such few crime, and that by reducing the number of officers, crime may increase.
While the ordinance was approved last year, this is the first year that it was implemented, with open containers of alcohol allowed from every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day weekend between 5 P.M. and 10 P.M.
According to the memo, COVID-19 caused many social events to have reduced attendance and make it difficult to predict what attendance will be like for those same events in the future, while there were also issues with litter which was directly tied to open container events.
There were also issues with people bringing their own alcohol to the open container areas so that the alcohol was not limited to what was being sold at bars and restaurants in specifically labeled containers.
Council agreed to look into several of the recommendations given, but that they would decide on whether to move forward with them when it gets closer to deciding the budget next year.