Salem Streets Can't Be A Battleground For Knuckleheads

Issues at Bangkok Paradise must be addressed properly.


As I walked downtown yesterday morning, I was writing today's column in my head. The subject had been chosen and the direction and tone selected.

Then I turned on my iMac and looked at Salem Patch. Plans were changed as soon as I saw the headline concerning the events of early Saturday morning on Washington Street.

Before continuing, be advised that I know the folks who own Bangkok Paradise personally. Some time back I worked with one of them at McCue Corporation at Shetland Park. I know him as a family man who has always worked a legitimate job for a legitimate income.

There are many rumors concerning Bangkok Paradise. While I have my opinion, the fact is that I cannot attest to the reality of those rumors.

There is one reality I am famaliar with — Salem has always had an active and boisterous night life. 

As a young kid in the Point neighborhood, I remember going from one drinking establishment to another with my shoe shine kit. Later on, as a teen on Derby Street, I was witness to and a part of the culture of drinking that was supported by six bars, three social clubs and one package store along a one-mile stretch. 

While working doors and tending bar at three different downtown establishments, I experienced first-hand the perils and pitfalls of working in the hospitality business — midnight brawls on Central Street; dumpsters tipped over in the marketplace; chasing fools down Washington Street who didn't pay their tabs; throwing a young man out and watching as the police searched him and found a gun in his coat pocket.

We can all engage in hyperbole about what we think happened the other morning. We can also opine loudly on why it happened and how it can be prevented. That achieves nothing except to increase the volume on an issue that was already front and center for the police and the licensing board.

Other businesses in Salem have had similar issues in the past. Some years ago, I watched as massive brawls took place outside of the old Scuttlebutt's. There were a few occasions when Central Street became a battleground when parties were expelled from the old Roosevelt's. Klop Alley has often been the scene of fairly large late night brouhahas.

All businesses that serve alcohol after 11 p.m. are potential hosts for this kind of problem. It is up to owners and staff to work actively to identify and deter the types of situations that lead up these types of incidents. That is no easy task.

An even more difficult task is trying to control a situation once it has moved outside of the business. Door staff, or bouncers really have no authority beyond the door of the business. They are not the police, and life is not a movie. People can get hurt.

Prior to all of this, the Licensing Board had already notified Bangkok Paradise that they were expected at their next meeting. Let's take a deep breath, and let the Salem Police and the licensing board do what they are supposed to do, which is investigate and determine what steps should be taken next.

We can't have knuckleheads brawling on Washington Street. We also can't act unilaterally and just close a place down.

Let the legal process play out.

chester suchecki October 02, 2012 at 08:09 PM
a well trained bouncer would have seen the altercation brewing inside the bar long before it got outside.the bangkok has a back door and smart bouncers would have seperated the two out one out the front one out the back.there is alot of turf the two have to cover before they find each other again to fight if at all. thiss all takes training and a smart eye and ears not flirting with the customers not drinking but doing the job that you are paid to do. to be a good bouncer you have to spot it before it happens. whats the power drinkers and do drink counts. bartenders somtimes dont have time for this thats the job of the bouncer. yopu have to access them at the door. if you cant do these things get out you dont belong there. also its not your job to fight thats what 911 is for.
Justin Mattera October 02, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Spoken like a man who has seen Roadhouse one time or another! Great movie!
chester suchecki October 02, 2012 at 09:35 PM
justin i was trained in amherst by an ex state trooper that owned a bar there back in the 70's. those 5 college students were nuts and if you happened to go to school out there you know what i'm talking about. roadhouse has the right idea but its a movie.
Sonny Crockett October 07, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Maybe if you did your homework, you would realize that the police dept is understaffed. There are only a handful of available units on the road, far less than what is needed to handle their call volume. Car accidents, loud groups, parking complaints, college party after college party, domestic disputes, neighbor disputes, large group about to fight with sticks, more car accidents.. And don't forget all the ridiculous things they get called for night in and night out - toe pain, hurt feelings, I'm being harassed on facebook.. try listening to the scanner one weekend night and listen to what really goes on. 45,000+ residents, plus all the tourists and out of towners who come in for the nightlife and the police could be running only 4-5 cars on the road. It's a budgetary issue, not a "cops staring at holes" issue. No money for more patrol officers on the street = less patrol officers on the street. Is that easy enough for you? You sound like the type that would be the first to complain about traffic on the street where that hole is and say "why isn't there a cop here?". Do some homework and get back to me.
Sonny Crockett October 07, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Keep the peace. Great idea. With all those establishments you mentioned, and yes, many more "kids" now that Salem State is back. To keep all that peace, you need more police officers. To put more officers on the streets, you need more money in the police budget. Sorry you "don't want to hear" that, but it is a fact. Also, cops do not make "$100 an hour" on details. Sometimes they should for putting up with all the awful drivers that almost hit them routinely. I do agree with you that there needs to be more officers downtown after midnight, as that seems to be a good step towards maybe not eliminating, but at least putting as major dent in all the violence and tomfoolery.


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