At a meeting held last week in Western Washington, the police chiefs of Battle Ground and Vancouver lobbied the state to kill a Seattle petition that would allow Washington cities the option of extending bar service hours. Directly afterward, their counterparts at the the Clark County Sheriff's department took the mic and argued in favor of the proposal because of the flexibility and control it gave law enforcement.
At the April 3 meeting in Vancouver, the two chiefs testified to the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) that their resource-strapped departments aren't equipped to handle later crowds of drinkers and preferred the standard 2:00 a.m. bar push-out. They join the city of Federal Way in opposing the measure, where last week city officials and law enforcement declared it "horrendously bad public policy."
As I've mentioned in the past, getting law enforcement in other jurisdictions to support the proposal—which was first introduced by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn with the support of the Seattle Police Department, City Attorney Pete Holmes, and a united City Council last July—is key in getting it approved by the notoriously cautious liquor board.
(In a modest coup, King County Executive Dow Constantine addressed a letter of support to the board last year, an implicit sign that the King County Sheriff's office also backs the measure.)
Of course, if the state granted the rule change, bars wouldn't automatically be granted the right to serve until sun up. Cities would still have to petition the state for extended hours and prove that they could handle the rollback from a public safety perspective.
At the April 3 meeting, the Clark County Board of Health and tourism board also lodged their support of the measure because of its emphasis on local control. Meanwhile, last night, WSLCB spokesman Brian Smith says that many Tri-Cities law enforcement and city officials attended a Kennewick meeting on the measure last night but "they did not testify," he says. "They only wanted to listen [and] learn more."
The deadline for testifying is getting down to the wire—the final state meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 16 in Spokane. (To recap, here's how Seattle's March meeting on the measure went.)
The liquor board is slated to make its decision on May 7.