Too many cooks may spoil the broth, but the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Bureau of Law Enforcement understands that more is better when it comes to ensuring safe communities flourish in the commonwealth.
Virginia ABC has recently launched a new training program to empower local law enforcement agencies around Virginia to better respond to the most pressing alcohol-related problems in their jurisdictions. Administered by the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association (NLLEA) and funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the training program provides instruction on the commonwealth’s ABC laws and regulations and strategies for their enforcement.
Designated agents from Virginia ABC’s Enforcement Division launched the program in May. The Portsmouth and Norfolk police departments were the first to take advantage of a new four-hour Alcohol Law Enforcement Specialist Training (ALEST) program. A staple curriculum used by Virginia ABC Enforcement to provide training for in-service law enforcement academies throughout the state, ALEST has been retooled to a more concise and flexible format for the purpose of the new grant-funded program.
While the training program includes core instruction in the role of local police in the enforcement of alcohol laws and regulations, it was designed to provide a customized menu of training options based on the needs of each law enforcement agency. Training topics include:
“The overall goal is to partner with local police and licensees to proactively reduce incidents involving alcohol,” explained Virginia ABC Senior Special Agent David Huff, who oversees the training program. “We want to empower local officers by providing strategies and tactics on how to deal with intoxicated customers and other alcohol issues.”
The training can be tailored to fit tight local law enforcement schedules, ranging from a quick, 20-minute briefing to a complete four-hour program, according to Huff. The grant program extends through November. By its conclusion, Virginia ABC plans to provide training to at least 20 jurisdictions. Training sessions for police and sheriff’s departments scheduled so far include Colonial Heights, Petersburg, Hopewell and Virginia State University on June 24 and Virginia Beach on July 27.
“Local law enforcement is involved on a regular basis with alcohol issues,” said Special Policy Advisor for ABC Law Enforcement Ryant Washington. “The relationship between licensees and police should ideally be a partnership.”
The training program is supportive of recent recommendations from the Virginia ABC Enforcement Expert Review Panel including a renewed focus on ABC licensee regulatory matters, as well as the establishment of stronger relationships among local and campus law enforcement.
“Virginia ABC sought, and was awarded, the NLLEA grant due to its commitment to engage with local law enforcement to form an effective partnership in enforcing Virginia’s ABC laws,” said ABC Chief Operating Officer Travis Hill. “Virginia ABC’s enforcement training program is just one of the ways ABC Enforcement is giving effect to the recommendations and guidance put forward under Governor McAuliffe’s Executive Order 40.”
###The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is a major source of revenue for the commonwealth, contributing more than $1.8 billion to the general fund in the last five years. The agency currently operates 359 state stores. Its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees more than 17,000 ABC licensed establishments while the Hearings and Appeals Division considers more than 700 cases each year. The agency also provides alcohol education and prevention programs for people of all ages. ABC is committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.
National Grant Funds Virginia ABC Effort to Build Community Policing