Bar raid backlash
After nearly 100 citations were handed out the cold, early morning of Oct. 26, the fear of future bar raids swept through Syracuse University’s underage population for the remainder of the fall semester as Operation Prevent had made a smashing return to the Hill.
Chuck’s Café and Lucy’s Retired Surfer Bar were the targets of the first raids after 20 months of silence, and now they will face the consequences. Chuck’s and Lucy’s are slowly beginning to collect New York State Liquor Authority citations.
In 2004, two popular Syracuse bars, Planet 505 and Konrad’s, were forced to close after receiving numerous SLA citations. And while their closures are now forgotten, a fresh blow to the bar-crawling community may once again come from New York state.
‘Holding a license is a privilege, and we expect our licensees to abide by our laws and regulations,’ said Bill Crowley, the director of communications for the SLA.
Both bars have received numerous Notices of Pleading, an official charge sent to a bar by the SLA listing potential violations.
In response to the October violations both Lucy’s and Chuck’s pled not guilty. As a result, hearings will be conducted in the near future, although they have not yet been scheduled.
The chairman and commissioners of the SLA will later review a report citing all evidence presented at the hearing by both the establishments and the prosecutor. If the Board decides to sustain the charges, a penalty will be decided after examining the current and past charges.
Due to the numerous violations on record, both establishments face the revocation of their liquor licenses as a maximum penalty, Crowley said.
‘It isn’t set in stone,’ he said. ‘The members have the autonomy to make the choice. The first time they serve a minor there is usually a fine. The second time there is usually a suspension plus a higher fine, and the third time they will probably lose their license. It’s often what we see.’
During the most recent raid, Lucy’s was charged with serving alcohol to a minor, the use of unlicensed security guards and inadequate supervision of the sale of alcohol.
‘That last one means that they couldn’t prove that the minor purchased the alcohol from the bartender,’ Crowley said.
The bar had their license suspended for 10 days in September 2006, and paid a fine of $6,000. The charge was serving alcohol to a minor and foreign matter found in four bottles of liquor. Two other charges in 2003 resulted in cumulative fines of $4,500 and a 30-day suspension.
Earlier that evening, Chuck’s was charged with two counts of serving alcohol to a minor, inadequate supervision, the use of unlicensed security guards and alcoholic beverages found in bottles other than what was shown on the attached labels.
A pending investigation at Chuck’s is still underway due to a serving alcohol to a minor charge from Feb. 5, 2004. They applied for the renewal of their liquor license in August 2007, but the SLA would not act on the renewal until the investigation had been resolved.
Another two charges from September 2003 resulted in a $1,500 fine for Chuck’s.
Chuck’s and Lucy’s both declined to comment for this story.
Crowley, from SLA, acknowledged that college towns are tough places to run a business, where nearly 70 percent of students are underage. The SLA offers constant educational outreach and has recently developed online training for servers and licensees to identify fake IDs and how to spot people who are intoxicated, he said.
‘Bar owners know. If someone gets closed down they get the point, this is their livelihood; they have to protect their licenses,’ Crowley said.
As reported by The Daily Orange in December, students can expect at least four more raids this year, according to Capt. Shannon Trice of the Syracuse Police
Specific bars are targeted for the raids through complaints filed by students, faculty, medical authorities or any other members of the community, Trice said.
The goal is to prevent underage people from entering bars and buying alcohol as well as trying to curb the use of fake and other licenses, said Sgt. Joel Cordone of the Syracuse Police Department.
Operation Prevent began with one grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Council in 2003 that was valid for only one year. The grant was performed with great results and now will continue to try with or without the grant, Cordone said.
‘Our target and our scope are still there,’ Cordone said.
Cordone said the positive results of the raids can be seen in the existence of less fraudulent IDs especially in comparison to the 95 found in the first raid. He credits this decline to students’ knowledge of Operation Prevents’ mission.
‘They should know that it could be any day of the week. We will be enforcing the laws, we are returning, it just comes down to getting the time to do it and the appropriate agents,’ Cordone said.
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