Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead has suspended operations between his department and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission pending investigations into last weekend’s raid of the Rainbow Lounge. Read the full story in The Star-Telegram by going here.
Between Halstead’s move and the TABC’s decision to assign two agents to desk duty, it’s looking more and more like TABC is going to take the brunt of the blame for this one, which doesn’t surprise me. Less than a year ago, the city of Dallas was forced to rein in TABC agents because they were conducting bar inspections in an inappropriate fashion here. The Dallas Tavern Guild, an association of gay and lesbian bars, was involved in putting a stop to these practices. I’m not suggesting that the Fort Worth Police Department is blameless in this, but perhaps the LGBT community needs to start calling for reform at TABC as well, including diversity training and a liaison officer. Better yet, perhaps we need to vote Republican Gov. Rick Perry the hell out of office next year. Read this excerpt from Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy the other day:
This kind of bar inspection has been around only since 2005. Before then, agents mostly checked IDs and arrested bartenders for overserving customers.
But since then, Gov. Rick Perryâ€™s political appointees have told agents to discourage drunken driving by arresting everyone whoâ€™s drunk in bars.
Supposedly, agents conduct sobriety tests first and let drinkers go if they have a driver. City police donâ€™t even have those rules.
From descriptions, the Rainbow inspection sounds like exactly the kind of bar raid Texas lawmakers complained about in a 2005 Austin hearing.
“Youâ€™ve got some fine officers,” Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, told beverage commission officials. “But there seems to be a cultural problem, and I refer to some of your guys as cowboys.”
Whitmire, a strong supporter of law enforcement, described commission agents as “cowboys showing up wanting to show everybody how tough they are.”