Arlington County police team up with restaurants in initiative to increase nightlife safety

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It's an age-old problem for nightlife hotspots all over the DMV - how do you encourage people to have fun on Friday and Saturday nights, but just not too much fun?

Arlington County police believe they may have found a way.

It's called the Arlington Restaurant Initiative, which began as a pilot program in February and is now expanding countywide. According to officials, the program's goal is to maintain the county's nightlife while reducing alcohol-related crime and building strong relationships between patrons, restaurants and government agencies.

"We've shifted our focus from the end user, which is an intoxicated patron, to the owners," Arlington County Master Police Officer Dimitrios Mastoras said.

In a nutshell, participating restaurants go through the Arlington Restaurant Initiative accreditation program and receive various types of training from police. That includes de-escalation training, fake ID training and responsible alcohol service training as well.

So far, so good.

Wilson Hardware, a restaurant located at the 2900 block of Wilson Blvd in Clarendon, was an early adopter. Co-owner Faris Ghareeb said he is thrilled to see the pilot program expand.

"The idea is that the cumulative effect will have a net benefit, not only for our customers and our guests, but also for residents of the community at large," he said.

Any restaurant that holds a Virginia Alcohol Beverage and Control license is now eligible to participate in the program, which is coordinated by the Arlington County Police Department's Restaurant Liaison Program.