Nfld. & Labrador

Stronger police presence needed to stop fights in downtown St. John's, says pub worker

A George Street pub worker is calling for an increased police presence during early morning hours after a noticeable increase in the number of fights around transportation hot spots in the downtown.

'It's just one thing you don't want to see,' said April Wiseman

April Wiseman of St. John's, who has worked downtown 15 years, says fights continue to occur in areas like the intersection of Adelaide and George streets, due to a lack of police presence at night. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

A George Street pub worker is calling for an increased police presence during early morning hours after a recent fight around a transportation hotspot in downtown St. John's.

April Wiseman says she's been working in the same downtown pub for 15 years, and that a lack of police presence between the closing hours of 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. can often lead to fights on George Street.

Earlier this week on Twitter she wrote about an incident early Sunday morning in which she says 30 to 40 people were involved in several different fights near where taxi drivers pick up George Street passengers.

"There's one word to describe it. And it's gross," Wiseman told CBC Radio's On The Go on Wednesday. 

"It's very sad to see, because we're leaving and we had a great evening. We're walking to our vehicles and it's just one thing you don't want to see."

Wiseman says police usually patrol the street around midnight, but often don't return in the early morning as people file out of pubs and nightclubs.

While she says she doesn't frequently feel as if she's in danger, she believes a stronger police presence would make the area safer for everyone.

"It's a great place and there's tons of talent down there.… When they leave and they see this on Saturday, Sunday morning, it's not a good time. It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth," she said.

"Have a patrol car on that corner of Adelaide and George where the taxis are. That way I know, and the customers know and the patrons as a whole know that I and the rest of the citizens will hopefully get home safely."

CBC News asked the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary for an interview but no one from the force was made available.

Transportation issues tie into safety: George Street Association

Don-E Coady,the George Street Association's marketing and communications lead, said it's important for workers like Wiseman and others to alert the police of unruly behaviour, saying it hurts business owners and the city if people are too intimidated to go downtown.

"This is a concern that many people in the downtown are voicing," he said Thursday.

"We think it's important that these stories come out, because we all share the exact same view, which is that safety is the No. 1 one priority."

Don-E Coady of the George Street Association says it's important for there to be reliable transportation options for people who work on and patronize George Street. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Coady said the number of fights downtown could be tied to a lack of transportation options, because it means more people staying in the area after businesses close.

"If folks were able to get in and out of the downtown area efficiently and quickly and safely, then we wouldn't have so many people loitering and wandering around and roughhousing and worse," he said.

"Transportation is an issue that needs to be addressed, and safety is also a major issue that is tied to transportation."

Coady said the area needs to see more police car and foot patrols.

"They're doing the best that they can, we have no doubt. And yet we need more," he said. "That's not a George Street conversation, that's a downtown St. John's economic conversation. Because when folks don't go into the major thoroughfares, we all lose in the long game."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go

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