The Riley County Police Department has acted prudently in deciding against changing the way it handles alcohol violation citations at taverns.
The writing of individual citations will continue to be up to investigating officers, and whether violations will be forwarded to Kansas Alcohol Beverage Control will continue to be up to police supervisors. Among discretionary factors in whether violations are reported to ABC is whether bars cited for violations are making good-faith efforts to prevent them.
Referring every violation to ABC would eliminate grounds for alleging that the RCPD is either protecting or picking on certain establishments. Yet forwarding every violation also could result in penalties for establishments that, as John Doehling, the RCPD’s assistant director, said, have “done everything they could possibly do and they are still fooled by a fake ID or something else. We’re not in the habit of forwarding those to the state to attempt to punish a bar for something they had no control over.”
The RCPD reviewed its policy at the Law Board’s direction after Rusty Wilson, who owns popular taverns in Aggieville, complained to the Law Board that the RCPD was treating his establishments differently from others with regard to enforcement of liquor laws.
Also wisely, the RCPD will issue reports every six months that show the number of alcohol violations and where they occur as well as a summary of enforcement activity in Aggieville. If departmental discretion does begin to reflect favoritism, it ought to be apparent on those reports.