Fighting against alcohol-related crime


City of Hemet Police Chief Robert Webb has announced that the Hemet Police Department (HPD) has been awarded an important $51,104.00 grant from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), to battle alcohol-related crime. “This is important to the city of Hemet in order to increase protection of our youth in relation to under-age alcohol consumption, and to shut down problem locations that have contributed to an increase in alcohol-related crime,” said Chief Webb.

Lieutenant Eric Dickson of the HPD was quick to point out that this grant is one of only 49 awarded in California to local law-enforcement agencies through ABC’s Alcoholic Police and Partnership (APP) program. “ The police department here in Hemet is very proactive in seeking grants to help combat crime,“ said Dickson adding, “While we very much appreciate the grants from, and our partnership with, the state of California’s Office of Traffic Safety, this ABC grant, which runs from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, will aid us greatly in curtailing alcohol and driving-related problems.”

The ABC grant took time to vet and intensive investigation in its preparation. “The HPD’s “Restoring Our Community Strategy” team or ROCS, utilized the talents of Detective Craig Willison who investigated the information used in the grant and he also drafted the proposal. The entire process was overseen by ROCS Sergeant Michael Arellano,” said Dickson.

HPD: Lt. Eric Dickson . | Courtesy Photo

The city of Hemet has gotten OTS grants for a number of years, but this is only the second ABC grant the city has received. Dickson notes that while OTS Grants are more geared to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenses, this ABC grant is more geared toward illegal purchases and toward liquor stores themselves and is a large part of the HPD‘s efforts to build a partnership with the ABC. “This grant is an important tool in keeping our streets safe,” said Dickson.

The program has been very successful in other areas of the state.
“The program improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” said ABC Director Jake Appelsmith,” adding, “We’ve seen a real difference in the communities where grant program resources have been invested.”

The APP Program was created in 1995 to strengthen partnerships between ABC and local law enforcement agencies. The program is designed to put bad operators out of business, keep alcohol away from minors, and bring penalties such as fines, suspensions or liquor license revocations against businesses that violate the law. The funds will be used to reduce the number of alcoholic beverage sales to minors, obviously intoxicated patrons, illegal solicitations of alcohol, and other criminal activity such as the sale and possession of illicit drugs.

OFFICERS READY TO PROTECT: Det. Willison on Left and Sgt Arellano on Right. | Courtesy Photo

Lieutenant Dickson points out that, “…This grant will allow us to do more undercover work such as scheduling, “Shoulder taps,“ and “Minor Decoys.” A “Shoulder tap” is a police operation utilizing a minor to request an of-age alcoholic beverage store customer to purchase liquor for them. This targets the beverage customer. This is opposed to what is known as a “Minor Decoy,” whereby an under-age decoy will enter an alcoholic beverage store attempting to purchase liquor themselves.

While both are misdemeanors, Dickson points out that the second type of operation is aimed at the facility. “This type of offense really hurts the pocketbook of the unlawful alcoholic business owner because it threatens their very license to legally operate a liquor business: the license is the very life’s-blood of their beverage operation. There aren’t many alcoholic business owners who are reckless enough to endanger their licensure,” said Dickson.


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