In pursuit of a $100,000 grant to help crack down on the provision of alcohol to minors by local businesses, the Isla Vista Foot Patrol is taking state authorities out for a night on the town.
At midnight tonight, the IVFP will escort Jerry Jolly, the director of the state’s Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), on a walking tour of Isla Vista. Jolly will also be accompanied by UCSB officials from the Office of Student Life and representatives from the Isla Vista Alcohol and Other Drug Council (IVAODC). The groups will meet with him today and Saturday to discuss ways in which ABC funds can help the community and the university cut down on underage drinking- including the possibility of improved keg registration and tracking methods.
IVFP Lt. Tom McKinny said Jolly is visiting to see the alcohol problem in I.V. firsthand.
“[The ABC] wants to see how we intend to use the money,” McKinny said.
On the heels of a $50,000 ABC grant awarded to the IVFP last December to monitor local liquor purveyors, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. is preparing to submit an application for an additional $100,000 of ABC money to implement a new keg registration and tracking pilot program.
IVAODC director Dr. Onolee Zwicke said she met with Jolly in October 2003 to discuss new state legislation that would change the way registration tags are affixed to kegs. In their current paper form, the tags are easily removed, making the original purchaser of a keg difficult to trace.
With a serial number permanently engraved on the keg, Zwicke said a keg’s origin could more easily be tracked to the store from which it was acquired, and then to the original purchaser. If the keg was used to serve minors, or if a large party got out of control, the keg’s purchaser could be held accountable. In addition, police could then notify landlords – as the IVFP currently does for properties that repeatedly receive noise violation citations. The landlords may punish tenants further if their lease agreement forbids kegs on the property.
Since early December of 2003, McKinny said the $50,000 ABC grant has significantly bolstered the IVFP’s ability to enforce alcohol laws at Isla Vista liquor stores. The money pays for several full-time officers to focus solely on identifying people leaving liquor stores with alcohol who appear to be under 21 years of age, and to make sure people over 21 are not buying alcohol for minors. Officers working on ABC funds also enter open-keg parties to ensure that alcohol is not being furnished to minors.
On a single day earlier this month, McKinny said one foot patrol officer and one ABC investigator working Isla Vista together cited three clerks – two from Mac’s Market and one from S.O.S. liquor – for selling alcohol to minors. The pair also arrested two people for minor in possession offenses, lying to a police officer and possession of a fake I.D. Four other fake I.D.’s were also seized, along with two kegs of beer that were in plain view from the street. Several other subjects were detained or cited that day for using fake I.D.’s or providing alcohol to minors outside of local liquor stores.
When a store clerk is cited for selling alcohol to a minor, the police forward the case to the ABC, which can then impose fines on the stores themselves. ABC rules also mandate that liquor store owners keep their businesses free of graffiti. McKinny said enforcement of this regulation has led to graffiti cleanups within the past two months at several area stores, including S.O.S.
McKinny said the sheriff’s department does not have enough funds to address pressing matters on the street and enforcement of alcohol laws at liquor stores at the same time. Extra enforcement requires officers be paid overtime.
“In the past, when we’ve seen a problem, we use overtime resources to address it, but we also recognize that’s a limited resource,” McKinny said. “We use the grant money as an alternative avenue.”
Although Mark DeSio, chief of communications for ABC, said the grant issuing process is very competitive since any police agency in the state can apply, Zwicke said she is confident Isla Vista will receive the funds.
“I think we are very high on the radar,” Zwicke said. “I think we have a very, very good chance.”