Park City police keep the peace for Sundance stars and festival fans

Published: Monday, Jan. 25 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

"Our biggest issue is public safety," says Park City Police Chief Wade Carpenter, explaining that allowing too many people inside a venue is risky for patrons, as well as for police and other emergency responders in the event of a medical emergency or fire.

Carpenter talks about the need for a "free flow" of traffic inside the clubs and bars as he stands outside Flanagan's Irish Pub and Restaurant on Main Street where he's just ordered the manager to boot 50 patrons out.

Carpenter, who also serves as Park City's assistant fire marshal, entered the pub and found the crowd downstairs so thick he gave up trying to reach the back wall. Upstairs in the main dining area and bar, however, there's plenty of room. The manager agrees to turn on the lights downstairs and cut off the drinks and music in an effort to get some of the revelers to move back upstairs. But he also tells the chief that it'll be hard to keep patrons from moving back downstairs once the band starts to play again.

"We're pretty lenient as far as getting people to cooperate," Carpenter says, after thanking the manager and leaving Flanagan's with a promise to return later and check the occupancy.

"Our objective is to fix the problem and keep people safe," he says surveying the people milling past, "but still let them have a good time."

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