Kamloops’ version of the Lower Mainland’s Bar Watch program will begin on Dec. 1.
Dubbed the Inadmissible Patron Program, it gives Mounties the power to remove certain people from pubs, bars and restaurants in the city. Cpl. Jodi Shelkie said 20 businesses have thus far signed on to the program, which is aimed at reducing the potential for violence in licensed and other establishments.
“An inadmissible patron is an individual who is wearing or displaying gang colours, support gear or insignia and/or an individual whose lifestyle, associations and activities pose a risk to public safety,” Shelkie said.
Participating businesses post a sign near their entrance. When asked by police, a patron must provide valid identification. Refusal to do so means that person will not be allowed to enter the premises.
Shelkie said Mounties will then make the appropriate checks to determine if that person qualifies as an inadmissible patron.
The Kamloops RCMP first talked about this initiative at a public safety meeting in June.
“We’ve seen on the odd occasion people coming into bars and wearing their colours,” then-Kamloops RCMP Supt. Brad Mueller said at the time. “We certainly want to take a strong position on that.”
Two local establishments spoke to KTW in June on the condition of anonymity and said multiple venues in the city communicate with one another on an informal basis after a previous bar watch program fizzled out in the city.
Asked if this type of program is needed, one restaurateur said it has become more difficult to identify drug dealers, who less often visibly flaunt gang ties. Another business representative said “we don’t know what we don’t know” when it comes to the potential for gangsters in the establishment, but noted an increased police presence would take pressure off bouncers and create a safer environment for patrons and staff.
Kamloops had a similar program a few years ago, but it is no longer in effect.
Bar Watch programs have been challenged several times in British Columbia courts and Human Rights Tribunals. In 2010, the tribunal ruled that a Kamloops Bar Watch directive prohibiting muscle shirts on men – but allowing them for women – did not breach a complainant’s rights and was “reasonably necessary to maintain a safe night club experience.”
Any business can join the Inadmissible Patron Program by contacting the Kamloops RCMP at 250-828-3000. There is no charge.