Konrad’s raid first of many sweeps
The Saturday night sweep at Konrad’s that resulted in the arrest of 54 people, most of them underage Syracuse University students, is just the first in a series of about eight sweeps that will look to prevent the access of alcohol to minors.
Funded by an $18, 500 grant from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, officials have been on the drawing board for Operation Prevent for at least a month-and-a-half, said Sgt. Joel Cordone, operations supervisor at the Syracuse Police Department. Officers were surprised by the 51 fictitious licenses they seized at Konrad’s, he added.
In partnership with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, New York State Liquor Authority, Onondaga District Attorney’s Office and Syracuse University Public Safety, the operation will target premises and conduct alcoholic beverage control checks where agencies suspect that minors gain access to alcohol. They are also investigating where the false identifications are manufactured. Police could not disclose what those premises will be and how soon they will be swept.
The operation does not seek to focus on bars, but rather on the minors who use fraudulent identifications and consume alcohol, Cordone said.
Konrad’s was the first target for Operation Prevent because officials say they had received numerous complaints from neighbors, the liquor authorities and concerned parents that underage students were drinking there regularly.
Three Konrad’s bartenders were charged with selling alcohol to minors, and the bar was referred for review to the Board of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which could fine or suspend the license of the establishment.
In an effort to increase I.D. verification at the bar, Konrad’s owner John Cadorette is already in talks with “InterCheck” and may soon use a computerized system to swipe licenses and check for proof that the I.D. holder is of legal age.
“The reason we haven’t done it yet is because of the expense — it’s $3,000,” Cadorette said.
Cadorette also defends his staff and will enforce that all bartenders check identification before serving drinks.
“They’re good people and they were doing their job to the best of their ability,” Cadorette said. “It’s a very tough thing to do when you’re busy but we’ll do it.”
Cadorette has also contacted his attorneys should the Board of Alcoholic Beverage Control find the bar in any violations; however, he supports the effort of the operation.
“They have to start somewhere,” he said. “It’s going to send the right message and I can honestly say police were professional and treated the kids with respect.”
SU students have already began contacting the university’s Student Legal Services for advice or legal representation.
“There have been 7 or 8 students that contacted our office,” said Gary Sommer, director of Student Legal Services.
A few of the cited students were concerned in particular about the court date they face, which lands during Spring Break, but legal services is in the process of requesting a change of date, Sommer said.
“I think the city court is cooperating with us and I’m optimistic that we can get the court date changed for those students,” Sommer said. “Students with questions should call our office but we will not be sure till next week about the court.”
Operation Prevent officials say that students are likely to face a responsibility project for their legal violations, and SU students were also referred by Public Safety to the Office of Judicial Affairs.
“It is certainly our intention that students in these alleged violations will be contacted like any other student who violates the code of conduct,” said Patrick McPeak, judicial affairs counselor. “Anytime there is an allegation, there will be a resolution process to determine whether you are responsible.”
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