Liquor Stores must now provide BPD with names addresses of keg-buying customers

by Beacon Staff • September 28, 2005

In an ongoing effort to deter underage drinking and quell student parties in the city, Boston City Councilor-at-Large Stephen Murphy proposed a law to the Boston Licensing Board last October that would increase the responsibilities of liquor stores that sell kegs.

The law would require stores to provide Boston Police with a list of the names and addresses of people purchasing kegs each day.

The board, which grants and regulates alcohol and food licenses for restaurants, nightclubs, package stores and hotels, will hold its first public meeting on the issue in early October.

Licensing Board Chairman Daniel Pokaski said he expects the law will pass in mid-October based on the amount of support generated from city councilors and the board.

"I think there's always a way around things, but if it's a way to help neighborhoods, to help the police and students, then we're for that," Pokaski said.

The proposal marks a new chapter in the city's attempt to prevent off-campus parties and underage drinking from getting out of hand. The University Accountability Ordinance, passed last December, forces the release of students' zip codes to the Boston Police Department.

"It's not Big Brother," Pokaski said. "[Alcohol] is a highly regulated commodity which we're trying to keep tabs on. We're just trying to help the police patrol and [encourage] students to celebrate in a responsible, legal manner."

Pokaski said the law isn't directly targeting a certain age bracket.

Senior media arts major Galen Foard said he feels the new law is an infringement on the rights of students.

"The government, and all its subsidiaries, shouldn't be able to access private information such as what you're doing in your own home," said Foard, who lives near Northeastern University at the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Gainsborough Street.

"Students face a loss of privacy and at this point there's nothing we can do about it," Foard said.

Police have not said how they would use the information gathered from liquor stores. Pokaski, however, said he thought knowing a keg's destination would help police monitor potential party situations.

"The board would certainly hope the police would take it a step forward to drive by those addresses," he said.

Pokaski said liquor stores have not yet been contacted regarding the proposal.

Although Joe Gomes, the general manager at Blanchard's Liquor in Allston, has not heard about the addition to the keg licensing law, he said he is familiar with the state law that presently monitors keg use.

The current law requires liquor stores to copy down names, addresses and birthdates of people who purchase kegs, but does not require the information released to the police. Gomes said Blanchard's Liquor personnel have also taken security measures of their own regarding fake IDs.

Gomes said they confiscate fake IDs and record the time and date of their use.

According to Emerson College Police Department (ECPD) Lieutenant Eric Schiazza, Blanchard's Liquor sends the ECPD and other schools a manila envelope every few months with photo copies of the phony IDs. After a search through its directory, the ECPD notes if any of the underage violators are Emerson students.

Schiazza said they receive four to six fake IDs belonging to Emersonians per school year.

According to Schiazza, the ECPD did not deal with off-campus issues until last October when Mayor Thomas Menino held a meeting with the Boston Police Department (BPD) and local college police departments to talk about the growing need for added security from universities.

In light of the deaths of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove after the Red Sox pennant championship last October and 21-year-old James Grabowski, who was killed during a riot as he was celebrating the Patriots' 2004 Super Bowl win, Menino requested cooperation from Boston institutions to assist the BPD with disciplinary action.

"If the BPD is called to a party that's gotten disruptive, they take down names of the students and notify the appropriate college," said ECPD Officer Scott Bornstein who attended the meeting with McCabe.

Dean of Students Ronald Ludman said the report would go to campus police and would then be forwarded to the Dean's office.

"In the event a student was found responsible for a fake ID or disorderly conduct the college would review the case and respond accordingly," Ludman said. "The college does impose an obligation to all students to behave responsibly and observe all laws."

Despite Emerson's cooperation with the BPD, and the potential for punishment, Fenway resident and senior film major Matt O'Connell said he doesn't think the law would dissuade students from having keg parties.

"I don't see how it would prevent people from buying kegs," O'Connell said. "I can understand the city's argument, but it just seems a bit intrusive."

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