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Published: Friday, 7/2/2004

6 at bar ticketed in smoking raid

Toledo police issued six citations for violations of the city's anti-smoking ordinance last night during a raid on a North Toledo bar.

Herb Betz, son of Lil Sheba's owner Thelma Betz, said two uniformed officers and four plain-clothed officers entered the bar at 1380 West Alexis Rd. about 7:30 p.m., during the lunch break for GM Powertrain employees from across the street.

Five customers were ticketed for smoking, and a bartender was cited for allowing smoking in violation of the ordinance, Mr. Betz said.

Toledo police Sgt. Mark Taylor confirmed that five customers were ticketed but said the report from the raid made no mention of an employee being cited. Kerry Robinson, the bartender, confirmed she had received a ticket.

"When they came in, all the lunch crowd left," Mr. Betz said. "They came in like we were being raided for drugs. I've got a whole pan of chicken that's going to go to waste."

Although sweeps performed by city Environmental Services agents have been well publicized, police Chief Michael Navarre said last night the police department has been conducting smoking enforcement on an occasional basis for about a month. Such operations have been assigned to the directed patrol unit as a low-priority task, he said.

"I did want them to start hitting some places where we've been getting a lot of complaints," the chief said. "We've done it without fanfare - if there were TV crews there, I told them to keep on going. We're kind of caught in the middle - it's not a top priority, but we're not going to allow them to thumb their noses at us."

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