The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

June 7, 2014

Compliance check excuses: ‘I was too busy to check IDs’

ENID, Okla. — Some of them cursed, and some of them cried, but all of those who were cited last week during an alcohol compliance check had an excuse.

Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dariel Momsen said the excuse he hears most often is, “I was too busy to check IDs.”

The six who sold beer or alcohol to a minor May 28 have been, or will be charged, with a misdemeanor.

The compliance check found six locations out of 22 checked failed to stop an 18-year-old volunteer from purchasing beer or alcohol.

Prevention Specialist Meri Spurlock, who said she was disappointed with the last check, said she’d been doing the compliance checks for about two and a half years.

“The compliance rate for fiscal year 2013 was 71 percent,” she said. “The compliance rate for fiscal year 2014 is 74 percent. I wanted it to move more than that.”

Some of the problem with sales of alcohol to minors is clerks and servers are not checking ID correctly, she said.

“We’ve given these Responsible Beverage Service Training for two and half years and a lot of people have taken them,” Spurlock said. “But all too often people are making mistakes and they are not reading the ID card correctly.”

Another problem is the perception that underage drinking is acceptable, Spurlock said.

“There are still people who sell knowingly and there are still people who don’t bother to check IDs at all. I’m not sure which is worse,” she said. “We’ve had people sell to our volunteer knowing there were two cops in the store and she told our guy, ‘Be careful. There’s two cops in here.’”

Spurlock said over time, PreventionWorkz and the sheriff’s office have had to alter their tactics when conducting compliance checks. She realized the checks were only being conducted on a certain day of the week and the clerks and servers knew that. So they began conducting checks on other days.

“They’re looking for the deputy and not the people who are underaged,” Spurlock said.

Sheriff Jerry Niles said by the end of the year, four or five deputies will have received specialized training in alcohol compliance laws.

“We want our staff to by up to speed,” he said. “Our commitment with training is by the end of the year all of our patrol deputies will be up to speed on their intoxilyzer training. We’re looking at additional training.”

Niles said if his office receives a complaint about alcohol sales to minors, his office works with PreventionWorkz to investigate.

“If we hear something is going on, we try to set up a compliance check,” he said “We’re trying to help PreventionWorkz get the word out on the training they offer.”

Niles said his office still hears of, and finds evidence of, field parties out in the county.

“Field parties are still here,” he said. “We’re trying to prevent them.”

Niles said a recent field party was reported to the sheriff’s office by a resident who saw an unusual amount of traffic.

“We made contact with 31 persons age 20 or below,” Niles said.  Deputies found more than 100 unopened cans of beer at the scene.

“Anytime we hear tidbits on parties or the possibility of parties our in the county, we’re out checking, we’re out looking,” he said. “We’re trying to develop probable cause to go as far as we can to prevent people from drinking and driving.

“Our long-term hope and goal is to educate adults and youths alike to the severity of the law.”

PreventionWorkz will conduct responsible beverage service and sales training throughout the year to ensure state and local alcohol laws are followed by those who serve or sell alcoholic beverages.

The next training session is 1-4 p.m. July 30 at The Lounge at Ramada Inn, 3005 W. Garriott. Those wanting to attend are asked to pre-register by July 22. The training is offered at no cost, and registration is required by calling Spurlock at (580) 231-3991 or (580) 234-1046.

The training provides clerks, servers and managers with the knowledge and skills to sell and serve alcoholic beverages safely, responsibly and legally.

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