Toronto
2 min

Cops in the ‘hood

Bars are leery of being targeted by the heat

ADD IT UP. Cops counted too many people on the Black Eagle's patio. Credit: Tony Fong

Staff and management at some neighbourhood bars mark an increase of police hassles in the time leading up to Pride.



And the undercover types, they say, are always lurking.



“We get a liquor inspection – probably monthly,” says Dean Odorico of Woody’s. “A liquor inspector will talk to a manager, let them know they’re there, the usual stuff.



“[And] undercover goes through all the time. But we don’t have a problem with them.”



Some note more regular accounts of increased police activity, but not everybody wants to attach to their names to the allegations.



Some bars, like The Black Eagle, say they’re scared of reprisals.



“It’s a running joke around here that a month and half before Pride it always starts,” says a staffer who doesn’t want his name used.



Three years ago, the Black Eagle was charged for overcrowding on Pride day, he notes, adding that the judge who heard the case deemed it as harassment.



This last month has been particularly intense, he says, adding that undercover police spent a weekend at the Black Eagle earlier this month checking for food menus, food supplies, liquor licences and capacity counts.



At the end of all that, the bar was complimented for “running a very clean place” – other than having a few too many patrons out on the patio – then ordered to put an extra doorman on the patio.



“We’re beginning to wonder – a number of businesses are starting to wonder – to what extent this is going to go.



“You get nervous. These people have the right and the ability to shut us down.”



Fifty-Two Division’s Det Sgt Doug Singleton says two men were caught recently having sex in the Eagle’s window – but won’t give details on how the cops are responding.



The Barn has had a number of run-ins with the police. It sat out a short liquor suspension in May, then police moaned about the lack of cooperation when they began poking around The Barn during the recent investigation of the murder of Anthony James Dowding.



The Barn has been slapped for a handful of minor infractions, and a staffer there says it can get petty.



“You get good ones and you get bad ones. You know, the liquor inspectors – the young guy who’s coming in and wants to show what he can do.”



When asked for her name, however, she won’t identify herself either; everyone’s being shy on this one.



Others, meanwhile, say it’s been business as usual.



“We get the narcs rolling through every now and then,” says John Hiner, the night manager at Trax V.



Hiner says police were around more frequently after the death of Dowding in May, but have since stayed away.



Carrington’s, Zipperz, Crews and Tango, meanwhile, report no problems, nor does Sneakers.



“We’ve actually been very lucky lately,” says bartender Jim Wigmore.



Remington’s general manager Ken McKeigan notes that his own bar was the target of a police raid in 1996 – with the indecency charges still winding their way through the courts. McKeigan says he’s now noticing more police outside of his club lately, but reports little police traffic on the inside.