Merchants help address underage drinking Business that sell alcohol in Vermillion are joining forces with the Vermillion Police Department and the community to address the issue of underage drinking.
Freedom and Pump 'N Pak convenience stores recently confiscated driver's licenses from individuals who attempted to use them to purchase alcohol. In both cases the individual presenting the license was not the same person to whom the license was issued.
Clerks at the stores immediately called the police. Although the individulas fled prior to the arrival of the police, the licenses were left behind and turned over to the police for further investigation.
"The actions of the clerks were responsible, commendable and encouraging. I'm especially pleased with Freedom as they had failed both compliance checks earlier this year. Obviously, they are making the necessary corrections," said Vermillion Police Chief Art Mabry.
According to Mabry, the discussion at recent meetings with city alcohol license holders has focused on what the merchants can do to assist in identifying, holding and prosecuting underage individuals attempting to purchase alcohol.
State law allows for a merchant who has reasonable grounds to believe an underage individual has attempted to purchase alcoholic beverages to resonably detain the individual and surrendered them to a law enforcement officer.
"Based on what I'm hearing from merchants, this is a resource many are considering and the the police department welcomes their assistance in addressing this issue. It's clear the merchants don't want the headaches, penalties and publicity that underage purchasers create for them," Mabry said.
The Vermillion Police Department and local retailers are discussing joint participation in a national program titled "Cops in Shops." The program involves the use of undercover officers posing as clerks.
The undercover officers will be looking for underage individuals attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages and adults buying alcohol for underage individuals. When the undercover officers observe these attempts the individuals will be taken into immediate custody and charged.
"The cooperation between the merchants, community and police sends a clear message that if you violate the underage purchasing and drinking laws in Vermillion you can plan on being arrested," Mabry said.
Vermillion recently established a Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) chapter as a community outreach program to assist in addressing the issue of underage drinking.