Informed Merchants Preventing Alcohol-Related Crimes and Tendencies (I.M.P.A.C.T)

    IMPACT stands for Informed Merchants Preventing Alcohol-Related Crime Tendencies. It is a cooperative program between ABC, local law enforcement agencies, and licensees.

    The IMPACT program teams an ABC plainclothes investigator with a uniformed police officer who visit the licensed establishments in a given area in a marked police vehicle. To create public awareness, the vehicle bears signs that read "ABC ENFORCEMENT TEAM". The primary objective of the project is to educate licensees about the various ways they can participate in reducing alcohol-related crimes such as sales to underage and obviously intoxicated persons.

    This project is a pioneer effort that combines municipal and state law enforcement personnel in a high visibility profile to educate licensees. IMPACT teams remind licensees of the responsibilities and accountability associated with the sale of alcoholic beverages. This is accomplished by identifying areas of non-compliance and providing crime prevention information.

    The project represents a fundamental change from the traditional law enforcement philosophy. It is designed as a crime preventive approach in a relaxed atmosphere of cooperation between merchants and law officers. The focus is to educate rather than to enforce. Even though the teams are prevention oriented, members take action against any major violations observed during the inspection/visits.

    By involving the media in publicity efforts, IMPACT has created a public interest in, and an awareness of, the influence that alcohol has on criminal activity in a community, particularly its youth.

    Merchants have accepted the program and its philosophy because they are being offered an opportunity to identify weaknesses in their alcoholic beverage sales system and to correct deficiencies without penalties.

    Unexpectedly, merchants, including some of the most chronic violators, have improved their sales methods by checking identification and discouraging drunken loiterers.

    The IMPACT Program also provides local law enforcement with an opportunity to learn more about the alcoholic beverage control laws that they are required to enforce.

    Local communities endorse the program as it improves the relationship between law enforcement and merchants while diminishing the classically adversarial relationship often found between them. It has ushered in a previously untested communique among state officials, local law enforcement officers, and businesses to address issues surrounding alcohol abuse.