Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories




– March 17, 2003



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The OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative supports cooperation between community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned citizens to change local ordinances and enforcement practices.


In Cedar City, Permits Encourage Compliance

The community of Cedar City, Utah, now

requires a beer-handler?s permit for any person who wants to work in a

bar, restaurant, store, or other alcohol outlet. This policy is helping

reduce sales to minors.

Cedar City, a town of 26,000 and home to Southern Utah University, is not

far from Nevada and only 2 ? hours from Las Vegas. As in many college

towns, Cedar City law enforcement frequently deal with underage drinking

and related problems.

In 2001, police began asking whether there was a problem with sales of

alcohol to minors and began conducting compliance checks to find out. The

initial round yielded successful buys at 18 of 39 stores. Though no

penalties were assessed, the police did send a letter to every retailer,

with a photo of all of the products their underage buyers had purchased.

During enforcement of minor-purchase laws, police discovered that

employees terminated for noncompliance would sometimes get rehired

elsewhere. That is, he or she would be fired for selling to a minor, only

to work at another alcohol outlet. The police realized that to effectively

curtail sales to minors, they needed a mechanism to keep these people out

of jobs that involve selling alcohol.

Chief Robert Allinson of the Cedar City Police Department suggested

adopting a policy modeled after ?Beer-Handler?s Permit? programs in other

communities; implementation of the policy fell to Corporal Mike Bleak.

With help from the City Attorney and other officers, Corporal Bleak took

the idea to City Council. To demonstrate the need for a local ordinance,

the police brought every container of alcohol that their underage decoys

had purchased during the compliance investigations. The decoys attended as

well, to allay any concerns of deceit or trickery during the checks. ?The

Council was ecstatic,? says Corporal Sheldon Barney of Cedar City PD?and

they passed the rule easily.

Now anyone who wants to work in alcohol sales in Cedar City must acquire a

Beer-Handler?s Permit. They have 60 days from their date of hire to attend

the permit class, which covers Utah laws, detecting false ID, local

ordinances, and other information relevant to sales of alcohol. Once they

have the permit, employees must wear it while on the job.

Of course, the permit alone is not enough to prevent sales to minors?so

Cedar City follows up with vigorous compliance checks. The officers try to

check every outlet at least twice yearly. Already they have seen their

efforts pay off; in the last round of checks, only four persons sold to

the underage decoy. Of those, three were new employees who had not yet

obtained their permits. Now Cedar City Police are pushing the program

county-wide, to curtail sales to minors outside town limits. Says Cpl.

Bleak, ?We know this isn?t going to solve the problem?but it helps.?


more information,

contact Corporal Sheldon Barney of the Cedar City Police Department at

[email protected] or 435-586-2956.



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