Lawrence City Commission to consider requiring sexual assault intervention training for some staff at local bars

photo by: Nick Krug

Lawrence City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St., is pictured on May 3, 2016.

City leaders will soon consider requiring certain bar and restaurant staff to undergo sexual violence intervention training in order to get their local liquor licenses.

As part of its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider adopting an ordinance requiring the training for on-site managers as a condition of drinking establishment licenses. In February, commissioners asked city staff to draft the ordinance following discussion with staff and owners of several local drinking establishments, which includes bars, restaurants and other businesses that serve alcohol.

The city issues a local drinking establishment license, which is required in addition to the state liquor license. City legal staff has said the city could require certain training as a condition of the local license. Whether the city would contribute funding for the training is still undetermined.

The ordinance’s wording does not identify any particular training provider and instead allows licensees to choose their own trainer so long as the trainer is “qualified,” according to the memo. The city will have to set standards for providers on its own, and the memo states that the city could put out a request for proposals to identify as many qualified trainers as possible.

If the city does choose to require training, who would pay for it is an open question. The memo states that the city could require licensees to seek out and pay for the training themselves and then show proof of completion to be licensed or to renew their license. Alternatively, the city could pay for all or part of the training. In the memo, city staff recommends issuing a request for proposals to figure out how much it would cost the city to subsidize all or some of the training.

If the commission votes to require and help pay for the training, the memo states that the city’s Special Alcohol Fund is likely the most appropriate funding source. The Special Alcohol Fund was established in 1998 to help finance programs related to the prevention and treatment of drug and alcohol abuse and any other program, activity, or effort that seeks to address issues related to alcohol.

Tuesday’s discussion will be the third commissioners have had about potentially requiring some type of sexual violence training for local bars and other businesses that serve alcohol. Vice Mayor Jennifer Ananda, an attorney and social worker, originally proposed that the commission require in-person training for all bar staff through the SafeBar program. That proposal was then scaled back to only management in response to concerns from some drinking establishment owners, who said the training would be difficult to provide due to high turnover and variable schedules for bar staff.

Previously, the commission also directed staff to research what it would cost to produce an educational video that would supplement such training. Based on estimates from three different video production companies, staff found the cost of shooting and editing footage for an educational video would range from $2,800 to $8,700. That figure does not include the cost of preparing the content for the video, a task that staff said could potentially be done by the Lawrence Police Department.

The City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


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