Police, bars prepare for influx of underage drinkers

About 250 local workers received a refresher course Sunday on the rules and regulations surrounding the sale of alcohol.

Bartenders, restaurant servers, liquor store employees and others participated in an alcohol retailers workshop at Abe & Jake’s Landing, 8 E. Sixth St.

The workshop included speakers from the Kansas Alcoholic Beverage Control division (ABC), Lawrence Municipal Court and Lawrence Police Department.

“It’s a good way for positive interaction between ABC and law enforcement and bar owners,” said Jen Brinkerhoff, director of prevention at DCCCA. “Sometimes they don’t see each other on good circumstances. … I think it’s important to have this kind of relaxed atmosphere to ask questions.”

The workshop offered server education training, pointers on how to identify fake IDs, and a review of the laws and penalties regarding the sale to and consumption of alcohol by minors. It also covered fire safety and myriad other issues surrounding alcohol sales, including binge drinking.

Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Division Chief Rich Barr showed a video of the 2003 nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., that killed 100 people. He cautioned the audience to follow the codes regarding emergency exits, exit signs and occupancy limits. He warned that establishments that don’t comply will be cited.

“The reason we do this is not to be hard-core,” he said to the audience. “The reason we do this is because of that video.”

Lawrence Police discussed their efforts to tackle underage drinking and the sale of alcohol to minors. With the support of state grant funds, the department has conducted compliance checks at area retail stores. For a series of checks between Jan. 31 and Feb. 8, underage buyers were able to purchase alcohol at 15 of 56 stores, the department has reported.

Blair Barr, manager of Johnny’s Tavern in North Lawrence, said tackling such issues as the use of fake IDs and binge drinking requires cooperation from all bars in the community.

“That’s the best thing – if we can get all the bars on the same page, then it will help solve the problems,” he said.