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Selectmen Serve VFW With 7-Day Liquor Suspension

The ruling comes following a "melee" at the VFW post on Eastern Avenue in April.

Dedham Board of Selectmen on Thursday served the on Eastern Avenue a seven-day liquor license suspension, five days of which will be served in June.

The suspension follows a "melee" during a birthday party hosted at the VFW hall. At about 1 a.m. on Monday, April 18, a fight between 50 to 75 people broke out in the parking lot, and it took seven and police from Boston, Needham, Westwood and the state police to quell the situation, according to police reports.

"Many, many people had too much to drink that night," selectman Michael Butler said. "The police officers reported, that as they tried to control the crowd [...] that those police officers were all being pushed or grabbed.

"It was a highly volatile situation that had evolved. I think the police officer's safety was in jeopardy."

VFW post commander Dana McQuaid told selectmen that three staff members were working that night, including two bartenders and a door person, who watches the parking lot.

"I'm not going to make her go into the parking lot, because that isn't safe," McQuaid said. "I will not have my door person go in the parking lot when that stuff is happening."

The suspension is for both the function hall and the members-only area, and is in effect for June 9-13. Selectmen voted to retain two days for the next year to be held, unless another violation occurs.

The VFW post laid out a series of stpes they told the board they will take to mitigate circumstances in the future and changes to policies. Changes include a pre-screening of renters, adding additional personnel, and increasing communication with upper management when incidents occur.

"It was a very serious incident. We are trying to do the right thing to demonstrate to this board that everybody that's down there is going to be responsible," said Michael Williams, an attorney for the post.

VFW members also will re-appear in front of selectmen in four months for a review of newly implemented procedures.

Police Sgt. Michael Buckley, who is in charge of policing liquor establishments in Dedham, said despite the three arrests, more "could've and should've" been made - they just needed more manpower to control the situation.

"I think the VFW is responsible for what happned, and perhaps if they had called us it wouldn't have turned into the melee that it did," Buckley said. 

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