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Boston officials unveil safety recommendations for bars and patrons

A new guide from the Boston Licensing Commission outlines how late-night establishments should respond to rowdy patrons and what employees should do if they witness a crime.
A new guide from the Boston Licensing Commission outlines how late-night establishments should respond to rowdy patrons and what employees should do if they witness a crime.Craig F. Walker/File/Globe Staff

Boston officials unveiled new safety recommendations for bars, nightclubs, and their patrons Thursday, urging caution and vigilance after two women were allegedly abducted in downtown Boston last winter.

The 33-page guide was the product of discussions among police leaders, club owners, and the city’s licensing commission about making the city’s night life safer. The guide, which builds on a previous safety campaign in New York City, outlines how late-night establishments should respond to rowdy patrons and what employees should do if they witness a crime — call 911, preserve the scene, and cooperate with investigators.

“We hope that all owners of licensed establishments know that they should not hesitate to call 911 if they see anything or anyone suspicious around their establishment,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said at an afternoon news conference at police headquarters.

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To encourage establishments to report problems to the police, incidents will no longer be described as potential license violations until the city’s licensing board holds a hearing.

“A lot of the times they’re calling us to help themselves out, so that they can help their patrons, and to stop violence or help someone out,” Boston Police Commissioner William G. Gross said, flanked by a group of club owners. “But unfortunately, that moniker that was put out there is ‘Hey, they were written up.’ If folks are fighting in the street and these folks here are calling us, they’ve done the right thing and they shouldn’t be punished for that.”

The guide, to be posted on the city’s website, comes after two high-profile abductions in downtown Boston last winter. In late January, a 23-year-old woman left Hennessy’s bar near Faneuil Hall and was reported missing when her loved ones couldn’t reach her, police said. She was found in the Charlestown apartment of Victor Pena, who is charged with kidnapping and aggravated rape.

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The next month, Jassy Correia was kidnapped the night she celebrated her 23rd birthday at a Theater District club. Officials allege Louis D. Coleman III convinced Correia to get into his car. He was captured on a surveillance camera in Providence two hours later, carrying her body into his apartment. He was arrested in Delaware, where state police troopers found Correia’s body in his car. He has pleaded not guilty to a federal count of kidnapping resulting in a death.

Kathleen Joyce, chairwoman of the Boston Licensing Board, said owners have already adopted many of the new recommendations.

“I feel confident that our licensed premises really do their best to ensure the public safety,” she said. “I think a big part of this was demystifying the process of what happens with our board.”

Declan Mehigan, co-owner of the House of Blues, Paradise Rock Club, Brighton Music Hall, Lir, and other venues, praised the recommendations as a collaborative effort.

“They didn’t make it too complicated. We want all our employees to read this going forward. It will only help,” he said. “We want everyone to have a good time and have a safe time.”


Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at gal.lotan@globe.com or at 617-929-2043.