This is what they mean by cutting policing costs

It's not a revelation that city police officers, rather than blanketing the downtown core in full armour in anticipation of weekend bar fights, will instead ticket brawlers under the nuisance bylaw. City council approved that bylaw two years ago, and fighting was clearly among the offences that couild get one ticketed (up there with blocking traffic and going to the bathroom on the sidewalk).

The idea of ticketing brawlers, rather than rounding them up and throwing them in "the tank" for the night, followed by criminal charges, will strike many as insufficient. We're quickly approaching the fifth anniversary of the May 18, 2008 downtown assault that left Ken Gottfried with permanent physical damage; in many ways, for Brockvillians, there has not been such a thing as an "ordinary" downtown fisticuff since that tragic incident.

But incidents such as the Gottfried case are, thankfully, very rare. While the result has tended to be assault charges, your average "bar fight" is not so much an assault, as in the Gottfried case, as a consensual fight between two combatants. (I am reminded of Jack Kirkland's description, fifteen years ago, of the Russel Hotel in Smiths Falls as "the arena of many a pugilistic endeavour on the part of young men trying to establish their manhood.")

We don't need these pugilistic endeavours, of course. But at a time when city police are being told, more intensely than ever and with an OPP costing hanging over their heads, to cut costs, we should not fault them for doing exactly that.

Deploying additional manpower in the main core in anticipation of a brawl would result in the kinds of expenses that brought us to the OPP costing in the first place. And if we do go OPP, that kind of deployment will result in higher contract costs.

One would expect city police already are downtown at closing time. And the fight we are reporting in today's edition happened nowhere near closing time.

A ticket may not be enough to deter Brockville's brawlers for long. But it's a start, and the city's policing resources, like all other things, are finite.