Boot Bar and Grill undergoes safety checks

Emily Fornof, Associate News Editor Cliff Soloway

The Boot Bar and Grill, a New Orleans bar frequented by Tulane students, is subject to recent compliance checks by local law enforcement to ensure the safety of student patrons.

According to Louisiana State Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control, compliance checks are unannounced visits to establishments by two undercover agents and a trained, underage operative. During these checks, the undercover agent enters the facility and attempts to buy alcohol illegally.

The ATC enforces this process to ensure that businesses with liquor licenses are operating according to state law. Compliance checks usually take place when complaints are filed against bars and other alcohol-serving facilities.

For the Boot, these compliance checks involve not just the ATC, but Tulane University Police Department and the New Orleans Police Department as well, providing officers to assist with crowd control outside of the Boot.

“We [NOPD] don’t go into the bar; we just assist the ATC,” Jennifer Dupree, NOPD Second District Investigative Unit lieutenant said. “The only other thing we do is, when they’re [Boot patrons] outside we can stop them, ID them, make sure they’re of age, just for their safety. Especially with the traffic going down Broadway.”

Besides assisting with ATC raids and safety checks, TUPD concerns itself with student safety on a day-to-day basis.

“If we’re being called on for a student in distress, or if we observe that a student is in distress, our first and foremost concern is for the student’s well-being,” TUPD Captain and Patrol Commander Alberto Alonso said. “Our first and foremost concern is to make sure that student gets whatever help it needs.”

Some students, like freshman Nick Arminio, also recognize the importance of having a police presence at The Boot.

“I like that the police are there because they make us feel safe,” Arminio said. “They don’t care that we drink, so it’s like not a big deal, then when something bad happens they’re there.”

Disciplinary actions are usually secondary and always take place after TUPD mediates a stressful situation.

“If there has been underage drinking, we normally cite them under student conduct,” Alonso said. “But it doesn’t necessarily always jump to the point of writing them a ticket, or a summons, or something along those lines for underage drinking.”

Despite the apparent leniency, not all students agree that the police are necessary at the Boot and can even negatively affect the Boot’s atmosphere.

“To an extent it’s good, I think, because sometimes there are things that go down at the Boot … but also it makes me nervous sometimes because … it’s kinda weird to have law enforcement hovering over you while you’re trying to have a good time,” freshman Evan Doomes said.

Despite differences of opinion, TUPD and NOPD both say they consider safety to be their top priority both inside and outside of the Tulane community.

“Us [NOPD] and TUPD have a great relationship, so if they need something from us, we’ll assist them,” Dupree said.