Mayor, police looking at ways to tamp down bar-closing violence in Norwalk

Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling.

Clarification: Video at end is not from one of the recent incidents, but from a fight in 2013.

NORWALK, Conn. – The late-night sirens are becoming routine in South Norwalk.

While city leaders are looking for ways to boost business in SoNo, bar-closing brawls are giving the city’s entertainment district and bad reputation.

Two early-morning melees and a gun incident aboard the Island Belle have added to the problem.

After the second Island Belle fight in the early hours of Aug. 2 brought the full late shift of Norwalk Police to the Visitors Dock at Veterans Park, leaving the rest of the city uncovered, Mayor Harry Rilling ordered a temporary suspension of the boat’s permit to use the facility.

Then, on Aug. 10, as bars let out, a series of fights that drew a crowd reported to have been as large as 500 people to the Webster Street parking lot brought not only a full complement of Norwalk police officers but units from several surrounding towns and the state police rushing to SoNo. This time there were two arrests at the scene, an arrest for an incident unrelated to the fight, and two nearby stabbings.

Aug. 10 police narrative

Rilling said Monday he and Police Chief Tom Kulhawik are taking action.

“I met with Chief Kulhawik yesterday for a bit and we will be moving forward with plans to reduce the likelihood of future incidents,” Rilling said. “Obviously, not every location causes a problem for us, just the very few habitual offenders,” he said of the city’s late-night watering holes. “We will be attempting to meet with them and the Liquor Control Division. If things continue as they are, we will be seeking to suspend liquor licenses for various periods of time. We have a very good relationship with Liquor Control and they know we do not contact them unless and until things get out of hand.”

Rilling said he would be meeting that day to discuss the Island Belle situation and “what our decision will be regarding future cruises from our dock.”

Wednesday, Rilling said he will be sitting down with the legal department to look at the regulations governing use of the visitors pier and “making some restrictions that will apply to everybody regarding how late people can come in” to the dock.

Rilling said they would be suspending commercial use of the pier for 45 days “until we get our arms around everything so we can make sure we protect public safety, protect the peace and quiet surrounding the harbor and not put too much of a strain on our police department.”


The following video of an earlier incident was shot by a bystander and posted on YouTube. It contains R-rated language and brief partial nudity.


6 responses to “Mayor, police looking at ways to tamp down bar-closing violence in Norwalk”

  1. Don’t Panic

    Weren’t the regulations looked at BEFORE the Belle was granted its permit. Weren’t we told that we couldn’t deny this user at risk of litigation?
    Why does that video show only one officer attempting crowd control? Is it procedure now not to have cruisers staffed in pairs?

  2. hmmm

    that video is not a recent video i believe it’s from last year

  3. Bill

    Yet, we are told we need more affordable housing, who do you think lives in affordable housing?

  4. Norewalk Lifer

    @ Bill, who? people who need affordable housing, that’s who

    Norwalk Lifer

  5. concerned student

    @ Norwalk Lifer,
    Well said!!

  6. Bill

    Move to where housing is affordable. Don’t make us taxpayers fund the lifestyle that you can’t afford.

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