Breck Police Department forms liquor advisory committee
BRECKENRIDGE – The Breckenridge Police Department has set up a citizens liquor license advisory committee to help head off problems before a liquor license holder is required to defend his or her business’s actions in front of town council.
The committee, which likely will comprise of representatives from the town, the police department, Summit Prevention Alliance and the restaurant and bar community, will meet later this month to discuss the role it will play as an intermediator between liquor license holders and the police.
The town council still will retain its power as a liquor licensing board and hold hearings when businesses get in trouble with the law.
“Some communities have gone to a separate liquor board,” said Town Manager Tim Gagen. “The council wanted to keep it with them. The problem with liquor boards is that people with liquor licenses can’t serve on them.”
Members of the town council hope averting problems will reduce the number – and length – of hearings.
The town council is no stranger to liquor violators. Last year, the council and Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman spent numerous hours working with the owners of the Liquid Lounge, a nightclub whose thumping music was disturbing residential neighbors.
Clerks or servers at three Breckenridge businesses – Giampietro Pizzeria, 7-Eleven and Loaf ‘n Jug – were caught selling alcohol to minors during alcohol compliance checks in June. It was the third such countywide “sting.”
Violators in the first sting last year received warnings, and those who passed the check received letters saying the employees had done their job, said Breckenridge Assistant Police Chief Dave Miller. The violators – and other businesses that hadn’t been checked yet – were visited again this spring and were all in compliance, but three of those checked in June sold liquor to minors and were issued summons.
Challenges facing business owners include employee turnover, demands on time to train people, a constantly changing clientele and an increase in the number and quality of fake identification presented to employees.
“We still run into some issues we think would be pretty obvious,” Miller said. “The new license for minors (vertical, instead of horizontal) has been out for two years, and we’ve seen employees on compliance checks handed that license, and they don’t even know there’s a difference.”
Employees in busy resort businesses are sometimes distracted and rushed, Miller said.
“They have a lot of things on their minds,” he said. “We need to get them to focus on certain issues they need to be responsible for. We kind of take it for granted. Some of the people in this business are new to it. They don’t have the experience that arises in this type of business. And we see it from one perspective. If we don’t sit down and listen to it from the business owners – they might have an entirely different viewpoint. That’s the whole idea of community policing.”
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