ABC carries out business inspections through its Informed Merchants Preventing Alcohol-Related Crime Tendencies (IMPACT) Program. IMPACT is a prevention and education program developed by ABC in 1984. It uses the community oriented policing approach of involving local merchants in deterring crime.
Goals and Objectives
The IMPACT Program’s primary goal is to reduce alcohol-related crime in and around licensed premises.
The program’s major objectives are: (a) Conduct visits and inspections of licensed premises; (b) Identify instances of non- compliance at licensed premises; (c) Take appropriate enforcement action on any major violations observed; and (d) Conduct follow up visits as needed to check for compliance.
The IMPACT Program teams an ABC agent with a local law enforcement officer. These sworn officers visit licensed outlets in a marked police vehicle. To create public awareness, the vehicle bears magnetic signs that read, “ABC ENFORCEMENT TEAM.”
Inspection and Advisement
IMPACT teams select and survey licensed outlets at random. During their visits, IMPACT teams remind licensees of the responsibilities and accountability associated with the sale of alcohol. The officers also inspect licensed premises for compliance with State and local laws. The officers may look for loitering, litter, graffiti, posted signs, slot machines, lack of food service in restaurants, illegal weapons, or other violations.
Although the focus is to educate, officers will take action if they see any major violations during the inspections. A checklist is used to note any violations observed and it is given to the licensee. Licensees must then correct any problem areas.
If the licensee has any questions after the IMPACT team has left the premises, the licensee may call the nearest ABC district or branch office (listed on the reverse) or local law enforcement agency.
About 20 days later, officers conduct follow-up visits to see if the licensee corrected the problems noted. If the licensee has not, the checklist is noted and the information is given to the local ABC district or branch office for possible disciplinary action against the license. In addition, officers may issue a criminal citation for any criminal violations.
Impact teams use the media to publicize their activities. Media stories are generally positive, telling how the program helps bring about voluntary compliance among licensees who may be unaware of the law.
Results and Impact
Response from the public has been very favorable. Merchants have accepted the program and its philosophy because they are being offered a chance to identify and correct any problems without penalties. Local communities endorse the program because it (1) improves the relationship between law enforcement and merchants, and (2) improves neighborhood conditions.
By involving the media, IMPACT has heightened public awareness of the influence that poorly-managed retail alcohol outlets can have on the quality of life in a community. Following IMPACT visits, most merchants– including some of the most indifferent operators–have improved their business practices by checking I.D. more thoroughly, discouraging drunken loiterers, and removing graffiti and excess signage. The IMPACT Program also teaches local law enforcement officers about the ABC laws they must enforce.
Local law enforcement agencies can receive IMPACT Grants from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) some funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).