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Boulder police still worried that Halloween on the Pearl Street Mall will crawl with problems

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Ever since word surfaced about a Facebook campaign to resurrect the once-wild (and long-dormant) Boulder Mall Crawl, the Boulder Police Department has attempted to dial down the prospect of a too-huge throng celebrating on the Pearl Street Mall this Halloween. First, BPD huddled with one of the Facebookers, Ryan Van Duzer, telling him that if a mob he helped attract descended in force and caused serious damage, he could be charged for costs starting at about $40,000. And now, BPD spokeswoman Sarah Huntley says, the department is suggesting that bar owners close at 2 a.m. sharp, even though daylight-savings time, which goes into effect then, would give them the opportunity to keep pouring for another sixty minutes.

"We're not asking them to lose an hour -- just to cut back to the normal hours they would ordinarily serve instead of extending the extra hour the time change would allow them to," Huntley says. "And it's not only the police. A number of downtown business folks and [city councilman] Ken Wilson have joined with our chief to ask bar owners. But it's up to individual owners what they're going to do. And it's purely a request."

Chief of Police Mark Beckner may have personally dropped in on Van Duzer, but he "isn't going bar-to-bar to talk to owners," Huntley notes. "We have an alcohol enforcement officer [Heather Frey] who has very good relationships with many of the bar and restaurant owners in the area. She'll pass on the request and express our concern about the confluence of events on Halloween."

One of those happenings -- a home game for the CU Buffaloes, who'll take on the Missouri Tigers -- has been slated for 11:30 a.m., much to the relief of assorted Boulder officials. The scheduling will make police deployment a bit tricky, since, as Huntley confirms, the department will need to have a full contingent available throughout the morning and early afternoon as well as during the evening. But it's preferable to having 60,000 people pour out of Folsom Field and head in the direction of what could be an already overstuffed mall.

According to Huntley, the BPD and other Boulder supervisors had little power over the kickoff's timing -- that was dictated more by TV considerations. Still, they're grateful for it, especially considering festivities that may or may not take place once darkness falls. For instance, there's still concern about a Mall Crawl return, in part because Van Duzer's partner, Jonathan Sackheim, declined to meet with Beckner and hasn't dissuaded attendance in the same way. The Mall Crawl Facebook page has been renamed (it's now called "Don't Taze Me Br09") and there hasn't been a new wall post since October 8. Nevertheless, the department isn't ready to relax yet. Huntley doesn't specifically say a hefty bill could be coming Sackheim's way if troubles occur, but "we're leaving all our options open."

The BPD is equally anxious about the Naked Pumpkin Run, "which has become an issue over the past several Halloweens," Huntley says. She previously made it clear that participants could be greeted with citations or arrest.

Are the Boulder cops inviting difficulty by their aggressive Halloween preparations? Not in Huntley's view. "I've seen some criticism from people saying we're somehow fueling tensions or making things more likely to happen, but I don't buy that argument," she says. "I think if things are going to happen, they're going to happen, and it's better for us to be very upfront with our concerns. We're not trying to dampen fun times. We're trying to protect the public from serious safety concerns, and we think a certain segment of the community will hear us and make the right choice. And if there are segments of the community who don't make the right choice, we'll have to respond. We don't want anyone to be surprised by that. We want them to know what our expectations are."

And if the booze stops flowing an hour earlier, that's fine by her.

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