By Mary O’KEEFE
On Saturday night, March 24, officers from the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) office and Glendale police visited several bars and liquor stores around the Glendale area in a proactive effort to educate and partner with local owners to make certain permits and other requirements were in place.
“It is more of an educational [outreach],” explained ABC Supervising Investigator Joseph Perez Jr.
The program is titled IMPACT – Informed Merchants Preventing Alcohol-Related Crime Tendencies. The prevention program began in 1984 and uses the community policing approach to involve local merchants in deterring crime.
Glendale police officers were being trained by ABC on what to look for and how to follow up on any violations.
“We are not here to arrest or [cite] specifically, but to make certain that the bar or liquor store is in [compliance],” said Glendale Officer Tino Saloomen, community lead officer South Command Center.
The officers were looking for variety of violations from bugs in the liquor bottles that had not been closed to posting of required signs, like only those 21 years old and older are allowed, and warning signs that pertain to the dangers of consuming alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.
Other areas the officers were looking at dealt with those bars that had security guards. According to California Dept. of Consumer Affairs, anyone acting as a security guard must have completed a 40-hour course of required training. Once they have completed the training, they must carry a guard card that indicates the completion of the course.
Some patrons found it intimidating to have several uniformed officers walk into bars or liquor stores.
“We do make some people nervous,” Saloomen said.
At one local bar in Crescenta Valley, a customer wondered why so many officers would be needed.
“In this economy, it seems wrong to have so many police for this and people will leave or not come in if they see this many police,” the patron said.
However outside it did not appear that anyone had left and in fact several people entered the bar, pausing to ask officers if there was a problem.
The number of officers at the first two bars was intimidating.
“We met up here but are moving into teams of three,” Saloomen said.
There are 150 ABC investigators statewide, with about 82,000 liquor licenses approved throughout the state. Partnering with local police departments is a way to stretch the investigation process.
The program’s major objectives are to conduct visits and inspections of licensed premises, identify instances of non-compliance at licensed premises, take appropriate enforcement action on any major violations observed and conduct follow up visits as needed to check for compliance.
Saloomen said the teams had visited 34 bars and liquor stores on Saturday.
“All the owners [and managers] were very nice and helpful,” he said.
The teams did not find any major violations, but repeatedly found signs not displayed in public areas and also issues regarding security guards. The officers will return in 20 days to follow up on any violations that were cited.
“The bars have been very clean,” Perez added.
In fact, the officers commented on how clean and well organized they found the bars visited in Crescenta Valley.
“I felt the evening went very well. The response from the merchants was pretty much what we expected,” said Saloomen. “They were uncomfortable when we first walked in but we were able to put the merchants at ease upon explaining that we were just conducting a routine inspection and our goal for the evening was raising awareness and educating the merchants.”