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Echo Press: 2 a.m. closings in other cities get mixed reviews

How has a 2 a.m. bar closing worked in other communities?

It's a mixed bag, according to informal research the city of Alexandria conducted.

At the direction of the city council, City Administrator Jim Taddei e-mailed city officials in towns that have the 2 a.m. closing to find out if they charge an extra fee for the extended hour (in addition to the state fee) and if their law enforcement costs have increased.

Nine cities were contacted - Detroit Lakes, East Grand Forks, Faribault, Farmington, Melrose, Montevideo, Moorhead, Osakis and St. Cloud.

None of the cities charge an additional fee for bars to stay open until 2 a.m.

Some cities reported a few problems with the later closing. Others haven't noticed any change.

Faribault reported the biggest problems. Its city clerk said the city has incurred additional costs because more officers are needed to work the extra hour, which creates overtime issues. Customers from other areas, including the Twin Cities, are coming to Faribault so they can drink later, the clerk said.

Melrose was another story. Its police chief didn't feel the extra hour was resulting in any additional costs or work for the police department.

Montevideo reported that there are "probably" additional law enforcement costs but that it was hard to quantify them. The city manager there said the late night problems just peak one hour later with the 2 a.m. closing.

Moorhead reported some problems initially when nearby Fargo still had its 1 a.m. closing. A police lieutenant said there was a "mad rush" of people coming from Fargo to Moorhead late at night, which led to bar problems and increased the Moorhead Police Department's calls for service.

Once Fargo switched to the 2 a.m. closing, the bar crowd stayed in Fargo. The change still had an impact, however. Moorhead police officers now work a 10-hour evening shift, going off duty at 3 a.m., instead of 2 a.m.

St. Cloud officials didn't report any additional law enforcement costs. It just moved the period where police were needed downtown back one hour.

The Osakis Police Department changes its shift to accommodate the 2 a.m. closing, when needed, and it has incurred extra hours. The city is considering implementing an additional fee in 2011.

Detroit Lakes didn't report any additional costs for law enforcement but it has received some band noise complaints from residents near bars that are open until 2 a.m.

East Grand Forks didn't report any additional costs or problems because Grand Forks also has a 2 a.m. closing time.

Farmington has only two on-sale businesses with the extended hour and it didn't report any additional problems or cost.