Verify: Study incorrectly cited in bar bill debate

VERIFY – YOU’VE GOT QUESTIONS, WE’LL FIND ANSWERS

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THE QUESTION

Front Porch owner Isaac Leon and other opponents of a bill that could extend the hours bars can serve alcohol have been citing a statistic that caught our eye.

“You know, Metro State [University], back in 2014 did a study that for every hour after 1 a.m. violence increased by 16 percent,” Leon said during an interview with CPR’s Ryan Warner.

The study he’s referencing used crime statistics from LoDo and other Denver neighborhoods where bars are concentrated. That would make the statistic a strong argument against extending the hours a bar can serve alcohol.

WHAT WE FOUND

Unfortunately, for Leon and other opponents of the bill, it’s not true.

The first thing you need to know is that it wasn’t a study from the university. It was a group project done by students in Criminal Justice professor Denise Mowder’s 2013 and 2014 classes.

“They worked hard and I feel they did a good job, but I can't completely confirm their accuracy,” Mowder wrote in an email to 9NEWS.

Mowder supervised their project, but she didn’t run any of the statistics herself.

She asked that people using the report “please look at these results in the context of a student class project.”

The second – and perhaps more important – point is the statistic that violence increased every hour isn’t from the class project or from Denver.

It comes from a study out of Norway the students included in their presentation outline.

The Norway study looked at 18 cities in the country where bars either extended or restricted their hours from 2000 to 2010.

It found that, “In Norway, each additional one-hour extension to the opening times of premises selling alcohol is associated with a 16 percent increase in violent crime.”

This translated into 4.8 additional assaults per 100,000 people per quarter.

What’s important to know about Norway is it has a lower drinking age than the U.S., according to the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking.

You can be served a drink in Norway at 18 years old if the product is below 22 percent ABV.

While the Norway study is interesting, it’s not an apples to apples comparison with the United States.

Here’s what the MSU students actually found using data from the Denver Police Department as well as surveys of LoDo bar owners and security personnel:

  • More assaults occurred in the LoDo neighborhood between 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. than occurred from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. in 2012.
  • This was also true for East Colfax, but the opposite was true for Five Points, Civic Center or North Capitol Hill.
  • LoDo bar owners said the top three ways to reduce violence around their businesses were to increase access to taxis, remove food vendors at midnight and install outside lighting.

BOTTOM LINE

The statistic that violence increased in downtown Denver neighborhoods known for their nightlife every hour past 1 a.m. isn’t true.

The statistic is from a study done in Norway that ended up in the presentation notes of a group of students from Metro State University. 

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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