In the final veto of his administration, Milwaukee Mayor John O. Norquist said yesterday that bars should keep their doors open to anyone who wants a drink, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Norquist vetoed an proposal to allow taverns to lock their doors and buzz in patrons after checking them out on video cameras. The Common Council approved the measure, 9-7, after bar owners said it would help cut crime.
“Sponsors of the ordinance argued that this arrangement would allow tavern keepers to keep out patrons who may have criminal and/or violent intent,” Norquist wrote in his veto message. “I disagree. A video camera cannot discern a hidden weapon. A video camera cannot detect the intent of a person bent on crime.”
Police and firefighters said the ordinance would have made it harder for them to enter if crime or fire left the tavern owner and bartenders out of commission and unable to buzz them in, or if the tavern managers were themselves committing crimes.
Police Chief Nan Hegerty and Fire Chief William Wentlandt objected to the bill because it would hamper unannounced searches of taverns to check for crimes or municipal violations. Although the ordinance would require tavern workers to open doors for police in five seconds, that would be long enough to cover up evidence.
The chiefs also said that if patrons and workers fled during a crime or fire, police and firefighters might have to break down doors to rescue injured victims left behind, delaying treatment.