Braintree officials on Tuesday approved a scaled-down security plan for six months after the restaurant and arcade opened and following Police Chief Paul Frazier's decision with company management to significantly reduce the number of detail hours worked throughout the week.
The security review was prompted by a condition built into Dave & Buster's amusement license, , that required the police chief to examine the detail staffing and the Board of License Commissioners to take action, Town Solicitor Carolyn Murray said.
Dave & Buster's officials requested that details be reduced because of what they said will be a slow-down over the summer. General Manager Derek Robinson said that the establishment has already experienced lower sales and guest counts since daylight savings began. A typical Saturday guest count in the winter, for instance, is 3,500, compared to 1,600 more recently, Robinson said.
"We felt the amount of details at the time wasn't necessary through the summer," he said.
Off-duty police officers crowded into a room on the lower level of prior to the 4-1 vote, demonstrating support for a more thorough review of the plan and arguing that Frazier's reliance on statistics to show that security can be reduced during the summer period was faulty. They also criticized the chief's decision to lower detail levels without consulting enough police officers and for enacting the changes before the board held its own review.
The new detail schedule, which was for the most part implemented prior to Tuesday's meeting, eliminates police officers on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and also reduces hours on Friday and Saturday nights. Available hours for Braintree officers – paid for by Dave & Buster's – has been trimmed from 92 to 36.
"There is no doubt in my mind that this is not a money grab," said Detective Brian Cohoon, president of the local police union. "This is not about that. There is a public safety need down there."
Cohoon and other officers argued that the reason why there have not been too many calls from Dave & Buster's for police incidents is because the officers working details normally take care of the problems themselves. As part of his decision to reduce hours, Frazier pointed out that just four-tenths of 1 percent of town-wide calls for service since Dave & Buster's opened in December came from the restaurant.
Frazier similarly disputed concerns from Granite Park Association residents – as presented in a letter read by District 1 Councilor Charles Kokoros – by saying that there were only two additional service calls to the neighborhood during the last six months compared to the same period in 2011.
But the town will not have a clear sense of the impact of Dave & Buster's on public safety if it changes its security plan halfway through the year, officer Brian Eng said. Officials will take another look at the plan in December when the establishment's licenses come up for annual review.
Board member Russell Forsberg urged his colleagues to table the matter to allow for a more comprehensive examination, but his motion was not seconded.
Chair Joe Powers said that there remains opportunities after the board's vote for police officers to consult with the chief and Dave & Buster's, and Solicitor Murray made note that the approved plan is a minimum force and can be increased without a further vote of the board by consultation between the police chief and company management.
"At the end of the day, the safety of our officers and the public is paramount," Cohoon said. "This decision is bigger than one person and one person is making it. It's an unsafe decision."