Policing Liquor Establishments: A Holistic Approach

By Gray, John L. | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, November 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Policing Liquor Establishments: A Holistic Approach

Gray, John L., The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin

A small American town of 17,000 residents had one of the highest crime rates in the county. By day, it was a vibrant cluster of small retail shops with residents and visitors enjoying the friendly feeling. At night, however, a different personality emerged: a climate of street fights, open-air drug deals in the parking lots of bars, impaired drivers, property damage from vandalism, and minor thefts had existed for several years.

One bar in a large building had live music and catered to patrons in their early 20s. This establishment had fights that often included the bar's employees nearly every night in the parking lot. Rumors of sexual activities and drug dealing constantly surfaced. In another part of town, local residents patronized three bars in close proximity to each other known as the Bermuda Triangle. When told to leave one establishment, they would walk to another and continue drinking. Police received numerous complaints of drug dealing, fights, and property damage.

Nearly every night, all of the town's police officers, with assistance from state and county personnel, would go from one call to another about alcohol-related crimes, which depleted resources from other areas and increased response times. The town needed a new approach as the police leadership and the city's elected officials continued to hear complaints from the community and crime statistics were not improving.


One proven method of making a community safer involves attacking the locations of crime and disorder. Being proactive early to prevent problems offers the most options for success. To this end, the author presents a strategy for police executives to consider that includes adopting the right mind-set, knowing who is responsible, partnering with other authorities, establishing a point of contact, agreeing upon expectations, training business employees, visiting the establishments, and documenting service calls.

The Right Mind-Set

The idea that assisting a bar in becoming successful, addressing issues of over service, or preventing disorder in such establishments belongs exclusively to the state's licensing authority on alcoholic beverages constitutes a common misconception. These state agencies often are underfunded and have insufficient personnel to effectively monitor the vast number of licensees. The agents often can handle only the "biggest fire" and, therefore, must react to problems.

When police departments adopt the mind-set, from the executive to the patrol officer, that this is our problem and, therefore, our responsibility, real and lasting results can happen quickly. This mind-set will help form relationships, inspire working partnerships, and create determination to achieve success. Without this foundation, everything that follows will have inconsistent and temporary results.

The Responsibility

First, police leaders should research the state's laws and court findings to determine the responsibilities of the liquor establishment. When police managers know the powers and responsibilities of the business establishment and the state's regulating agency, as well as what tools their own departments have, they will be better equipped to make an effective plan and to engage in a working partnership.

For example, is the business accountable for the behavior of customers outside its building and in its parking lot? Who has the power to immediately suspend the business' operations? Can police officers make an arrest for a minor misdemeanor that did not occur in their presence?

The Partnerships

Liquor control agents are the experts and an essential resource in the management of a bar. Many of the state's licensing agencies have a database that provides information that can assist the police department and may include documentation of administrative violations, owners of record, and arrests of impaired drivers that came from the business.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Policing Liquor Establishments: A Holistic Approach


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?