IMPD: Liquor license laws limit local enforcement actions – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Despite receiving more than 50 police calls in 2021, a bar’s license was not submitted for review until the following year.

When the Marion County Alcoholic Beverages Committee met in March last year, Tiki Bob came under scrutiny. IMPD call logs show more than 50 calls to Tiki Bob over the past year for everything from brawls and disturbances to a stabbing.

Capt. Christopher Boomershine, who heads the IMPD’s white-collar crime unit, said the numbers that ran up the bar are typical of the pattern the IMPD sees in downtown bars. He said a small number of bars tend to take most of the calls police receive.

“Most of our bar owners are good managers, good owners and good members of our community,” he said. “We find that some bars are not well managed.”

Although each county has an alcoholic beverages agency, state law gives the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission sole authority to issue, renew, or revoke liquor licenses. Local boards review each facility’s license every two years. Boomershine said there was no way at this time to call an emergency hearing in the interim.

“We can act (before the board) as a remonstrator,” he said, “but we are not a member of that board and we have no authority to deny or approve this liquor license.” We can only speak against it.”

Additionally, the Indiana State Excise Police is the only agency that can bring a case to an administrative hearing. ISEP has a total of 10 officers assigned to a nine-county district that includes Marion County. According to Boomershine, Marion County alone has more than 1,900 active liquor licenses.

Law enforcement officials, including the Excise Police, are pushing for several changes to state law. Most prominently, they are urging lawmakers to allow emergency hearings in the event of a homicide or aggravated assault at a bar. Additionally, they want to be able to give bars that become a public nuisance a criminal notice, not just an administrative offence. They also want to prevent people with a criminal conviction from owning an alcohol license.

The ATC declined News 8’s request for an on-camera interview. In a statement, the ATC said state law requires it to follow a local authority’s recommendations on whether or not to revoke a license, unless the local authority’s recommendations are clearly arbitrary or lack substantial evidence to order to support them.

Such is the case with nearby Tiki Bob’s and Taps and Dolls. The Marion County Alcoholic Beverage Board recommended that Tiki Bob’s renew its license for a year as long as significant changes were made by September and Taps and Dolls’ license should be revoked. The ATC followed both recommendations. Tiki Bob’s did not respond to News 8’s request for comment on this story, but IMPD logs show half as many calls to the bar in 2022 as in 2021.

According to Boomershine, the ATC recently hired a new prosecutor who is looking at ways to intervene more quickly. As of November, ISEP has also deployed two of its officers full-time to work with Boomershine’s unit.

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