Photo by Jonathan Olivares
Photo by Jonathan Olivares

Bars, restaurants, liquor and convenience stores were examined recently in Boyle Heights and other nearby areas as part of a special operation to prevent alcohol-related crime.

A team of 40 officers from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and Los Angeles Police Department conducted inspections on May 2 at nearly 200 establishments selling alcohol beverages to identify areas of non-compliance and provide crime prevention information.

According to a press release by the California Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the primary objective of the project was to not to enforce, but to educate.

The Informed Merchants Preventing Alcohol-Related Crime Tendencies (IMPACT) program, a cooperative program between ABC, local law enforcement agencies, and licensees, informed business owners about ways to reduce alcohol-related harm and reminded them of the responsibilities associated with the sale of alcoholic beverages, such as sales to under aged and intoxicated persons.

“We were checking licensed businesses to reduce alcohol-related problems and increase safety. We need businesses to help prevent tragedies on the roads, streets and highways,” said ABC Los Angeles District Admnistrator Will Salao in the department’s press release.

The operation comes after research efforts by community organizations and residents have brought light to issues of public safety.

In March we published a story about the high density of stores that sell liquor in Boyle Heights and compared that to other communities with similar populations. According to an L.A. County Department of Health report titled “Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm in L.A. County,” violent crime is nine to 10 times higher in communities with high densities of alcohol-selling outlets.

Police officers inspect liquor stores. / Photo courtesy of Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community

“There is a big problem in Boyle Heights. We are allowing too many liquor stores in our community,” said Denis Quiñonez, director of the Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Community in the previously published story.

We also reported that the Boyle Heights Coalition launched a campaign to limit ”“ and ultimately reduce ”“ the number of liquor licenses in Boyle Heights, and presented findings on the impact of alcohol in Boyle Heights in a town hall meeting they hosted along with the Boyle Heights Stakeholder Association and the Voice Community News back in March.

Research from the Boyle Heights Coalition showed that in an approximate six-month period there were 782 violations in alcohol-related crimes, ranging from traffic incidents to domestic violence in Boyle Heights.

Representatives from Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar’s office also observed the IMPACT inspections along with the Boyle Heights Coalition for a Safe and Drug-Free Community. In the ABC press release, Huizar said he was committed to stepping up enforcement against problem liquor establishments as well as educating on responsible ownership requirements.

“The IMPACT operation is just a first step to many more to come,” said Quiñonez in an email. “We need everyone in our community to be alert and help us remove nuisance locations from our community, as well as to pass legislation to better regulate the accessibility and availability of alcohol and other substances in our community.” Quiñonez also added no citations were issued during this month’s inspections.

A Standardized Training for Alcohol Retailers (STAR Training) presentation will be held on May 30, 2012 (10-2pm in English), and May 31, 2012 (2-6pm in Spanish) at the Hollenbeck Police Station. The presentation is designed to provide individuals employed in the alcoholic beverage server industry with in-depth training regarding ABC rules and regulations. The event is free of charge and open to local community leaders, business owners and all interested persons.
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