A sputtering economy may be contributing to one piece of good news: Smaller crowds in the Old Port have meant fewer calls to police, fewer fights and fewer arrests and injuries.

While bar owners can’t be happy about the loss of business, they and everyone should applaud the improved safety of the city’s night-life zone.

Remember, this summer began on Memorial Day weekend with the tragic death of Eric Benson, who died after hitting his head in a fall following a single punch. The case prompted bars to tighten up their security and begin communicating with each other, so that a patron who had been thrown out for rowdiness in one establishment would be less likely to be served in another.

It may be too easy to say if these measures are contributing to the better safety record in the Old Port, but they certainly aren’t hurting. It could be that a slack period will give police and proprietors a chance to put systems in place that will keep preventing violence when business picks up again.

It could also be a good experience for patrons to get used to an Old Port that is not, in the words of police Cmdr. Vern Malloch, an “atmosphere of lawlessness.”

Considering what’s at stake, the city cannot tolerate such an atmosphere. We hope that business improves for local establishments, but we also hope that this break in the action will give everyone involved a chance to make sure that this progress continues.


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