A Louisville Metro Council member is considering an ordinance that would force the city’s bars and restaurants to stop serving alcohol sooner, amid record-breaking levels of gun violence.
Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-8) represents parts of the Highlands neighborhood, including Bardstown Road. There have been three fatal shootings along the street in the past two months. It’s a trend that’s mirrored across Louisville where police have investigated 119 criminal homicides so far this year. That’s compared to 87 by this time in 2020.
Chambers Armstrong said business owners along Bardstown Road have told her they see the most violence after around 2 a.m.
“That’s when scuffles break out, they tell me, that’s when you have more people who are likely to drive intoxicated, that’s just whenever you have all kinds of other issues,” she said.
Chambers Armstrong is now considering a measure to pull back Louisville’s maximum alcohol service hours from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m. temporarily.
“I’m a big believer that experiments are important, that trying new things are important, and that whenever you see a problem it doesn’t hurt to try something different, if your current methods aren’t working,” Chambers Armstrong said. “I think that’s what we’ve seen with gun violence in this city … and so I’m proposing to try this for six months, three months, some period of time to see if it makes a difference.”
Under Louisville’s current law, bars and restaurants with a liquor license can serve alcohol until midnight Monday through Saturday and until 11:59 p.m. on Sundays. Any business with an “extended hour supplemental license” can serve until 4 a.m. every day of the week.
While Chambers Armstrong said she’s open to negotiation on the new time for last call, she pointed to some studies that suggest a change of at least two hours is needed to see a significant decrease in violence.
There are more than 170 businesses with active 4 a.m. liquor licenses in the city, according to data from Louisville Metro. Outside of downtown, Bardstown Road currently has the highest concentration of those bars.
Louisville Metro Police maintain a presence on Bardstown Road on the weekends, and they increased the number of officers assigned to the Highlands area from 5 to 12 in response to the recent shootings.
Chambers Armstrong said some residents have asked her to increase police patrols even more instead of reducing alcohol service times, but she said that’s not realistically possible.
“We know that we are down 300 officers city-wide and there just aren’t more resources for what we’ve had available,” she said. “For each of the last two shootings, there has been a police officer stationed within a couple of blocks of where it’s occurred.”
LMPD did not respond to a request for comment.
Chambers Armstrong said she plans to decide by the end of the month whether to file an ordinance reducing Louisville’s alcohol service hours. Right now, she’s collecting feedback on the idea through an online survey, and plans to speak about the proposal at an August 24 community meeting at the Highlands-Shelby Park Library.
Stacy Roof, who heads the Kentucky Restaurant Association, said the organization is not taking a position on the proposal until an ordinance is filed.