Help! It's the Police

Looking for trouble in the wrong bar

First, a little mundane personal anecdote: Buzz's home was broken into a couple of weeks ago. Mrs. Buzz called 911, and the person who answered pleasantly explained that no officer would be dispatched. The incident would be handled on the phone.

So what, you say? Virtually everyone has a story like that, or knows someone who does. There's never a cop around when you need one. That's a sad truism, but after talking to Gregg Weiner, Buzz says, "Thank God."

Weiner owns The Slip Inn on McMillan Avenue, and he says he's had plenty of face time with the police lately--now he wants them to go away. Weiner claims that one Dallas sergeant has been paying his bar regular visits, shouting at Weiner and his customers and threatening to shut down the business. The harassment began 17 months ago, he says, when the cop came by the bar after legal drinking hours and saw Weiner with a drink. It was plain cranberry juice, and Weiner told the cop he could taste or test it. The cop told Weiner that if he demanded a test, he'd be hauled to jail for disorderly conduct. Weiner--smart man--took his ticket, which was later dismissed. Nevertheless the hassling continued in various forms, Weiner claims, until late January, when several Dallas police officers and agents from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the fire marshal's office and health inspectors inspected the bar. His customers were ushered out, and the bar was searched, leading to three tickets: for unlawful dancing, for having 133 people--including eight staff and two undercover cops--in a business with a legal occupancy of 110, and for having too many beer bottle caps and straw wrappers on the floor behind the bar on a busy Saturday night.

Here's the topper--Weiner says one of his customers was mugged walking home after the raid. When the customer returned to the bar to tell the cops there, they told him they were busy on a call, and he'd have to phone 911. The mugging victim used a phone in a neighboring grocery store to report the robbery. No word on whether a cop showed up to take that report.

Weiner had had enough, so he arranged a meeting with Deputy Chiefs Daniel Garcia and Brian Harvey and threatened to file an internal affairs complaint. The upshot of the meeting can be summed up this way: Just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Just don't take it personally.

Chief Harvey told Buzz that The Slip Inn was one of six bars in the area inspected that night, and his Central Division plans to inspect all of them in the coming weeks as part of a drive to reduce crime. The Slip Inn has had calls for drunkeness and other problems in the past, Harvey said, but the decision to inspect it in January was made by a lieutenant, not by the sergeant Weiner is complaining about.

"We have an obligation to be professional in our dealings with people," Harvey said. He knows the sergeant involved and said Weiner's description seems out of character, but in any case, "We shouldn't be threatening to shut anybody down." It comes down to a swearing match between the officer and Weiner, and Weiner's complaints will be handled internally.

The sergeant, Weiner says, showed up at the bar after his meeting with the chief to clear up any misunderstanding, but "his apology pissed me off more than anything." Weiner wasn't there, but the cop told one of his bartenders that he thought the bar was much seedier than it is and didn't realize it had such a classy clientele.

 
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