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In an effort to curb underage and binge drinking, California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) awarded the San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) a grant of $29,008 to be used from July 1, 2014 until June 30, 2015.
The grant is for responding to alcohol-related crime as well as compensation for officer overtime, ABC Public Information Officer John Carr said.
“We review grant proposals every year,” Carr said. “We have a panel who determines which agencies should get grants that year.”
It’s a competitive process, Carr said. Several agencies send proposals to the panel outlining issues in their communities and their plans to address those issues.
SLOPD’s proposal outlined plans to control underage alcohol sales and monitor sales associates in liquor stores, SLOPD Capt. Chris Staley said.
In the proposal, SLOPD indicated intent of partnering with the Cal Poly University Police Department (UPD). Part of the grant money will reimburse UPD police officers.
One of the proposal’s goals is to prevent alcohol vendors from selling to underage drinkers.
The proposal also includes plans to make sure legal buyers don’t purchase alcohol for underage consumers.
“Our focus is making sure we have people that are selling responsibly both at on- and off-sale locations,” Staley said, “and that we’re doing other things that are not directly related to establishments themselves, but for people going in and purchasing alcohol for people who are underage.”
SLOPD will also keep an eye out for alcohol sellers who sell to intoxicated buyers. Officers will be stationed inside locations where this frequently occurs to monitor the sales associate and determine if he or she sells alcohol to intoxicated individuals.
Another crime SLOPD will address is the “shoulder tap,” by which underage individuals approach others with requests to purchase alcohol for them.
According to UPD Commander Brenda Trobaugh, the alcohol security measures already in use were effective during the beginning of Week of Welcome (WOW) and the first week of school to prevent alcohol poisoning.
Through plain-clothes detail — where officers dress as normal citizens and report law violations — and increased officer presence, UPD found half as many college-aged students in the hospital with alcohol poisoning or over-intoxication as in 2013.
“In that sense alone, the extra enforcement has made a difference when it comes to the health and safety of those consuming alcohol,” Trobaugh said.
Trobaugh said UPD’s intent with the safety measures was to address these issues at the lowest level, so people do not have to be imprisoned or hospitalized later on.
“We have a health and safety concern,” Trobaugh said.
Moving forward, SLOPD and UPD also plan to use the grant money to focus on events with a high probability of alcohol-related problems, such as Halloween.
“We want everyone to have a great time,” Trobaugh said. “We were all once college students, too. We just want you to be responsible and want you to be safe.”