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January 16, 2014

Partying Downtown

Patricia A. Kelly

Imagine my surprise to learn that the adult son of a friend was frisked in downtown Frederick on Saturday night – in order to enter a bar.


He grew up here and had come back for the evening, along with his wife, to celebrate a special event with some other young couples who were friends. Imagine his surprise, too.


Somehow, this occurring at two different restaurant bars, and the atmosphere around him, left him feeling unsafe.


I’ve seen frisking, or pat downs, in the Philippines when I lived there, before a dinner with President Ferdinand Marcos, upon entering a hotel, or at the airport. Only men were frisked, not women. In the Philippines, the excuse was Martial Law, and the multiple political assassinations during prior decades there.


In Frederick, last Saturday, the excuse given by the bouncers was the large amount of crime on Market Street. Here, as in the Philippines of three decades ago, only men were frisked. I was always happy not to have the experience, but chuckled at how much more room for weaponry there was under my clothes than under my husband’s. I’m not sure that’s true anymore.


I guess people then and now thought the feminine temperament was not inclined to violence. They should have seen me yesterday, when my Internet was down, my television wasn’t working, my car key fob was missing its’ back, and my smart phone was the one deciding whether or not I should take calls.


What I learned from that day was that you can sometimes get away with hurling your phone as hard as you can against the wall, and that miracles do happen, as, this morning, the Comcast man appeared at my door, having been sent on an appointment I had not requested.


Two hours later, everything was working, and I resumed my role as a delicate, nonviolent woman. I’m even holding out my pinkie finger while I slug gin from my favorite crystal water glass as I write this. (Only kidding).


Since learning about the frisking, I’ve searched The Frederick News Post and learned that crime in Frederick has actually decreased in numbers over the past two years, and that the Carroll Creek area has improved alot.


I’ve learned that frisking as a condition of admission to a private establishment is perfectly legal.


I’ve spoken to staff at two restaurants, and heard from employees of both that a recent stabbing on Market Street probably triggered the frisking. I later spoke with someone more authoritative and learned that the frisking had been going on before the stabbing, which was, by the way, the result of a personal disagreement rather than a random act of violence.


Suggestions have been made that club-like events at local restaurants may contribute to the crowd concerns that have led to the frisking. One restaurant employee informed me that his workplace has discontinued the late night “club” and re-vamped the schedule, including opening the kitchen later. The other stated that they have a lot of patrons on late Friday and Saturday nights and, thus, check everything.


Generally, I’ve learned, crime is not worsening downtown. There are incidents, of course, and the normal personal safety precautions should be taken, but things are under pretty good control, and the police are working hard to both patrol effectively and educate the public regarding the law. They are even informing people that dropping cigarette butts on the ground is littering.


Sometimes it’s hard to live in a world where that‘s necessary. I even read a comment reported in The Frederick News Post wherein a man said that littering is normal. I will not, however, throw or stomp on my gin glass in rage about this, because I am a woman, a member of the gentle sex. Watch out if I catch you dropping your cigarette butt on the ground, though.


So, now the exotic practice of frisking patrons of private businesses has come to Frederick. It made me feel safer in the Philippines, so long ago, as I knew no one could bring a bolo knife or a submachine gun into the my hotel. I’m not so happy about seeing it here, though.


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