The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. officially received a $100,000 grant yesterday to curb the availability of alcohol to minors in Isla Vista.
The grant, awarded by the California Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) in July 2004, will supply the Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP) with funding to research better methods of keg registration and provide more staff to combat sales of beer to underage patrons at local liquor stores.
IVFP Lt. Sol Linver said the ABC will monitor how and where the $100,000 is spent over the next year.
ABC investigator Will Salao, who has been working with the IVFP, said the grant will also fund training for local businesses regarding alcohol-furnishing laws. Salao said the training emphasizes to employees and clerks at liquor stores the importance of checking I.D.s and the ramifications of not doing so.
Linver said keg registration is one of the Sheriff’s Dept.’s main concerns. Currently, kegs are registered using a sticker that identifies the buyer and where it was purchased. However, Linver said these stickers are easy to remove, leaving officers with no way to track the keg – even though removing a keg’s registration sticker is also grounds for a citation.
“One task is to figure out a way to identify a method to permanently tag the keg,” Linver said.
Serial numbers, bar codes and tracking chips are all possible solutions to the problem, Linver said.
Casey Hayden, a UCSB student and crime data technician for the Sheriff’s Dept., is leading the pilot program that is developing a new keg registration system for I.V. Linver said the results of Hayden’s research will help improve keg registration methods throughout the state.
“The end goal is to show the pilot plan – to show what worked out and what didn’t, then present the bill to the legislature of California,” Linver said.
Linver said he hopes the grant will make Isla Vista a safer place.
“We want to decrease the amount of deaths and injuries,” he said.
Linver said it is not his goal to prevent people from having fun, and he said he encourages communication between students and law enforcement.
“I have absolutely no problem with people having a good time, as long as it is done safely and responsibly,” he said. “If you want to have an event, come and talk to us.”
Jeff Banks, chief deputy of the Sheriff’s Dept., said he wanted to caution students against allowing strangers to attend their parties, because hosts can be held responsible even if they are not knowingly providing alcohol to minors.
“If you throw a party for people you don’t know, there could be civil or criminal ramifications,” Banks said.
Banks said the grant money is going to help improve Isla Vista, both for residents and for law enforcement personnel.
“This is a great tool to start looking at how we can better control extreme issues of alcohol,” Banks said. “We want to get it manageable. We don’t want to make it an ‘us versus them.’ It’s working collectively.”