GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — It takes only four or five hours to train for a bar employee in responsible alcohol serving and it's free. But it can save a business hundreds of dollars in fines should it be caught serving liquor to minors.
The city of Gillette started mandating last year that restaurants with liquor licenses provide alcohol server training for their employees. The same ordinance allowed restaurant servers 18 and older to serve alcoholic beverages.
The measure was meant to make sure the servers are up-to-date in their training and help avoid compliance violations. But a local group, the Substance Abuse Advisory Council, wants to add more stipulations to the ordinance to encourage responsible alcohol serving.
Based on the statistics, the substance abuse council sees value in adding more requirements for alcohol server training. Since 2009 (when the server training for restaurants serving alcohol was voluntary), 29 tickets have been issued to Gillette eateries serving alcohol. Out of those, 21 (or 72 percent of the cases) didn't receive alcohol server training.
The council works with various local agencies to promote the responsible, safe and legal consumption of alcohol and to reduce substance abuse problems in the community. Together with Gillette Police Department, the council offers one of the possible trainings for alcohol servers — Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPs) training.
The council has been considering expanding the requirement so that any establishment with a liquor license would have to maintain records of alcohol training that its employees have taken and extend it to include not just restaurants that serve liquor but packaged liquor stores.
The purpose of the change is to make it easier for the police to verify that the people who are working there have the training they are supposed to have, said Charlie Anderson, city attorney.
"This is just a way of enforcing the training requiring. It's already there," he tells the Gillette News Record (http://bit.ly/QMwmgf).
Police Lt. Brent Wasson said the measure would help the police department enforce the ordinance.
"That is the portion of the ordinance that we would like to be addressed," he said. "Let's say that we conduct a compliance inspection and we encounter a server that violates the ordinance by providing alcohol to a minor. If the business cannot show us that the employee was trained, if they are not required to document the training, it makes it extremely difficult for us to enforce that portion of the ordinance."
Ultimately, the goal of adopting new requirements would be to reduce alcohol-related crimes.
The group says there is a correlation between having the training and not getting compliance convictions. The council's statistical numbers seem to illustrate that more people without the training get charged with violations than those who had the training.