On your toes, liquor sellers

Oak Park goes under the microscope in coming months

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Serving alcohol can be a tricky business. Those ever-hopeful underage drinkers will try to fool you.

That's why businesses that sell alcohol in Oak Park need to be on high alert over the next few months – all the time, really – according to a press release from the Hemingway District Business Association.

Oak Park Township has provided a grant to the Oak Park Police Department to conduct underage drinking compliance checks over the next few months, according to the press release.

Underage youths will pose as adults and attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages from various businesses. Those who do sell to minors – and we're guessing there will be a few – could face criminal prosecution.

So dust off your BASSET (Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training) manuals and check those IDs.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Matt Baron  

Posted: June 14th, 2018 6:05 PM

(This is the 2nd of a 2-Part Post) The young adults selected for this task are "age verified"?"that is, they appear, based on random polling of community members, to be neither especially younger nor especially older than their actual ages. There is no excessive makeup, high-end corporate wardrobe, or hipster beard to be found among them?"no deceit or trickery is involved. In addition, all teen-aged customers in this initiative do so in collaboration with police officers and other team members who monitor their attempted purchases. That oversight ensures the activity is done within sound compliance-enforcement practice. Among other segments of the population, the Township serves youth. And one of the most serious problems facing our youth in Oak Park and River Forest is a higher-than-average rate of alcohol use?"a pattern that has emerged through repeated Illinois Youth Survey results. These compliance checks are an evidence-based response and assist communities in addressing underage drinking as well as improve and empower the vast majority of businesses that are found to be in compliance with the law. We trust that these points help clarify the appropriate context for the Township's collaboration with the Oak Park Police Department as well as, in other instances, with the River Forest Police Department. If you are interested in contributing to our efforts to reduce underage drinking in Oak Park and River Forest, please contact Kelly O'Connor at koconnor@oakparktownship.org or Aimee Bates at abates@oakparktownship.org.

Matt Baron  

Posted: June 14th, 2018 6:03 PM

(This is the 1st of a 2-Part Post) On behalf of Aimee Bates and Kelly O'Connor of Positive Youth Development, working under the auspices of Oak Park Township, I am writing to put the alcohol compliance checks in fuller, more accurate context. First, it's important to note that Oak Park Township is making use of federal funding, administered through the Illinois Department of Human Services, to conduct the Positive Youth Development campaign. The alcohol compliance checks are part of that effort, which the Township was able to secure based on Illinois Youth Survey data in recent years. That data has revealed, among other concerns, that Oak Park and River Forest youth consume alcohol at rates significantly higher than the state average. So, clearly there are a host of alcohol-related problems in our community, including teens' access to alcohol, that the Township has taken the initiative to address. Also, we understand the desire by journalists to bring creativity to their task of telling stories. Unfortunately, the creative license brought to this serious issue has helped fuel inaccurate perceptions by a small number of readers. Specifically, phrases like "tricky business" and "underage youths will pose as adults" have apparently blurred some important and relevant facts. First, serving alcohol beverages comes with a great responsibility, and there truly isn't anything "tricky" about it. If someone looks anywhere close to as young as 21 years old?"the minimum drinking age?"that individual should be asked for his or her identification. Serving alcohol to a minor is unlawful, plain and simple. Second, the phrasing "posing as adults" implies that there is a deceptive plot to entrap employees at businesses with licenses to serve or sell alcohol. In fact, 19-year-old men and women are selected as attempted alcohol purchasers. (This note to be continued with a 2nd Post)

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: May 9th, 2018 10:05 AM

Oak Park Township has been posing as a needed service for years. Now we can see the service is to hassle local businesses.

Dale Jones  

Posted: May 9th, 2018 9:48 AM

I have written in this paper's comment section before about the various taxing bodies who spend tax money for purposes that are not within their statutory areas of responsibility. Other examples include park districts, libraries and schools funding the Youth Interventionist Program and the high school funding the Collaboration for Early Childhood.

Marty Bracco  

Posted: May 8th, 2018 4:24 PM

How, exactly, does this fit with the Township's stated mission of "Providing locally-governed supportive services to our community"?

Alice Caputo  

Posted: May 8th, 2018 8:41 AM

And why in the world is the Township (funded by taxes) handing out grants to the police department (or anyone else for that matter?) How is this misuse of taxes even legal?

Alice Caputo  

Posted: May 7th, 2018 11:07 PM

Instead of spending time and money on entrapping business owners how about the police pose as car owners to entice carjackers?

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