These funds will be used by the department to enforce underage drinking laws that pertain to liquor license establishments and special events, announced Hazelwood Police Chief Carl Wolf.
In accordance with guidelines outlined in the Revised Statues of Missouri and the State Division of Alcohol and Tobacco, the HPD will conduct compliance checks at establishments that sell packaged liquor and at those that sell liquor by the drink such as bars and restaurants. Trained undercover youth buyers, ages 18-19, will assist Hazelwood police officers with these investigations.
“The youth we use for the compliance checks will only be allowed to enter the establishment with his/her Missouri state ID and the money given to them by our police officers,” said Chief Wolf. “The youth go in and select a pre-determined alcoholic beverage, bring it to the counter and attempt to make a purchase. This incident is witnessed by an undercover office and an audio recording is made. If a sales transaction takes place, our undercover officer immediately initiates an investigation and issues a municipal court summons to the sales clerk.”
Chief Wolf further explains that the HPD gives business owners and their staff a “pat on the back” if they refuse to make the sales transaction. “Stores that do not sell beer to the undercover youth are notified about their compliance by the Officer in charge of the investigation. I also like to send them a follow-up letter congratulating them on their good work,” added Chief Wolf.
The HPD started receiving this funding in 2008. Since then, the department’s compliance failure rate has steadily declined which proves its effectiveness. In 2008, the compliance failure rate was 26%, a year later it was 15% and it dropped to 10% in 2010. This was impressive considering the fact that the compliance failure rate for the entire state EUDL program was 14% for 2010.
A portion of the grant funding is used for Underage Drinking Party Prevention and Controlled Dispersal as well. On certain nights when homecoming, prom, and graduation are held during the year, special teams of Hazelwood police officers will patrol areas around Hazelwood West High School. They will also respond to reports of underage drinking parties. The key is controlling the dispersal of these parties when possible. Efforts will be made to prevent intoxicated minors from leaving the party or driving or getting in a car with a drunk driver. If the party is an illegal drinking party, the alleged violators are dealt with in accordance to the law and released to their parents and/or legal guardians.
In addition, some of the money will be used to implement a new “Bar Patrols” program this year. Without advanced warning, uniformed officers will be entering bars and ensuring that all subjects who are in possession of alcoholic beverages are of legal drinking age. If they see an underage person with an alcoholic beverage, the individual will be asked to show ID to determine his/her age. If the person is age 21 or over, no further action is taken. If the individual is a minor, an investigation will be conducted to determine how he/she got the alcoholic beverage.
For more information on the HPD’s efforts to control underage drinking, contact Sgt. Timothy Burger, Special Operations Group and Traffic Management Team Supervisor for the Hazelwood Police Department, at (314) 513-5228.