Easthampton police say three businesses failed to check identification during alcohol survey

Last modified: Monday, March 17, 2014
EASTHAMPTON — Three city businesses that sell alcohol failed a police test Thursday that was designed to see which establishments are checking identifications of young adults.

Unlike a compliance check, when those trying to get served are underage, the subjects in this case were 21 years old, said Alan Schadel, the Police Department’s school resource officer. So while the businesses did not break the law by selling them alcohol, Schadel said they failed in his eyes because they did not verify that the young person was of legal age to buy it.

“They were 21, but they purposely did not have their IDs on them,” he said of the four 21-year-old volunteers who participated in the check, which he called a purchase survey. “My guideline is, if someone looks under 40, ID them.”

Because the three businesses that did not pass the test did not break the law, police declined to name them. Schadel said the businesses will receive a letter from the Police Department informing them of the purchase survey results and encouraging them to have employees attend a discounted alcohol training course that the city will sponsor.

If a bar, restaurant or store did check the volunteers’ IDs, the officers watching from outside would congratulate the staff member for “doing the right thing” and present them with information on an upcoming alcohol service training and a gift certificate to a local business, Schadel said.

While 29 of the 32 establishments checked did ask the volunteers for identification, Schadel said he was disappointed with the results because the department and a Northampton agency have worked hard to educate them about the importance of asking for identification.

The first year they worked with the Collaborative for Educational Services’ SPIFFY (Strategic Initiative for Families and Youth) coalition on the alcohol stings, 50 percent of the businesses failed by serving a teenager, Schadel said.

Since then, compliance was 100 percent until last June, when teenagers were served in Casey’s Big Dog Saloon at 40 Holyoke St., Glory of India at 29 Union St. and Jim’s Package Store at 49 Cottage St. Those businesses received written warnings from the Licensing Board.

Businesses that sell alcohol, tobacco or any other controlled substance should be ready for more compliance checks as a new Easthampton group has received a $125,000 federal Drug-Free Communities Grant to work with police on prevention work in the city.

Ruth Ever, coordinator of the new Easthampton Prevention Coalition, said this means that more time and resources will be available to focus on preventing substance use in Easthampton because while the SPIFFY Coalition operated with funding from the same grant, it had to split its resources among all Hampshire County communities.

The coalition will continue to receive $125,000 grants for four more years as part of the Drug-Free Communities grant program, she said.

The grant enabled the city to hire Ever full time. The group, made up of youth, parents, city officials, police, community leaders and other stakeholders, has been working since January with the goal of preventing tobacco and drug use and underage alcohol consumption in as many Easthampton families as possible.

Their efforts include supporting the Board of Health’s January decision to pass more restrictive regulations on tobacco and nicotine-delivery devices. “And now we can help enforce them,” she said.

The coalition, along with other coalitions around Hampshire County, are sponsoring an alcohol training and certification program at the Northampton Police Department in May. The TIPS training, offered May 14, and MassPack training offered May 6, usually cost between $45 and $60, but will be offered to local servers and package store workers for $15 and $10 respectively, Ever said.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.