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Louisville Mayor, Police Chief Back Earlier Bar Curfew

An evening shot of the Bardstown Road district in Louisville.
Scott Smithson
An evening shot of the Bardstown Road district in Louisville.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer is backing a proposal that would force the city’s bars and restaurants to stop serving alcohol earlier, amid rising gun violence.

District 8 Metro Council member Cassie Chambers Armstrong, who represents large parts of Bardstown Road and the Highlands neighborhood, filed an ordinance Monday morning to eliminate alcohol sales after 2 a.m. Currently, 171 businesses in Louisville have an “extended hour supplemental license” allowing them to serve alcohol until 4 a.m. The proposed ordinance would keep the change in effect until at least the end of the year.

At a press conference Monday, Fischer said he supports the policy change and would look forward to evaluating the results of the experiment.

“When we think about the public safety needs of our city, there are many drivers,” Fischer said. “Bringing hours of alcohol sales more in line with other major cities is just one more step that we can take.”

Of the 171 Louisville bars and restaurants able to serve alcohol until 4 a.m., most are concentrated in downtown and the Highlands. 

Louisville Metro Police Department has received 17,609 calls for service and 3,213 reported crimes in the past year within 500 feet of an establishment serving alcohol until 4 a.m., according to data provided by the city. There have been three shootings over the past two months along Bardstown Road, all during the early morning hours.

Chambers Armstrong began floating the idea of limiting alcohol service hours earlier this month in response to the shootings. 

On Monday, Chambers Armstrong said the majority of respondents to a survey she created were in favor of temporarily ending alcohol service at 2 a.m.

“It’s my responsibility, as the voice of this area and of the citizens that live there, to do policies that I think will keep that community safe,” she said.

A community meeting on the issue is also scheduled for August 24 at Highland Baptist Church starting at 6 p.m.

Chambers Armstrong said three neighborhood associations representing residents that live near Bardstown Road, including the Original Highlands Neighborhood Association, have passed resolutions in support of the proposal.

Chambers Armstrong also said the measure isn’t anti-small business, but is aimed at a handful of bars that she says are contributing to the shootings and other violent crimes.

“I think what we are seeing is some of these bad actor bars, quite frankly, are inviting in entertainment that they know is going to bring a group violence-affiliated crowd,” Chambers Armstrong said. “They’re not taking basic safety steps like screening people for guns, which they should be doing under state law. We’re seeing a lot of bars put profit over safety.

While bars in Kentucky are not required to check patrons for guns, it is illegal for anyone to bring a loaded firearm, concealed or otherwise, into a business that serves alcohol.

LMPD Chief Erika Shields also came out in support of the proposal on Monday, saying it could allow the department to stop bringing in officers from other divisions to deal with issues along Bardstown Road.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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