More Twin Cities metro area police departments are tracking where people are having their last alcoholic drink before alcohol-related issues from DWIs to assaults take place, hoping to clamp down on over-serving at restaurants and bars.
Nearly two years into a new program, more than 20 law enforcement agencies, mostly in the northwest suburbs, are now part of the “Place of Last Drink” program, tracking receipts, witness information or even just voluntary information from the person about where they last had an alcoholic drink before incidents to track patterns or problematic locations.
The program is a partnership among local law enforcement, the state Department of Public Safety and North Memorial Medical Center’s grant-funded coalition, the Partnership for Change.
“We’re looking at the big picture … getting these impaired drivers off the road,” said Brian Kringen of the Department of Public Safety’s alcohol and gambling enforcement division. “I expect a lot of departments will get involved when they see how successful it is.”
State law already makes it illegal for bars or restaurants to serve intoxicated people. Now the free program helps departments better track that data, hold establishments accountable and provide tools to businesses. The program is just one part of the Partnership for Change coalition, which started in 2008 by North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale with the goal of reducing underage access to alcohol and drugs.
Plymouth was one of the first police departments to sign on. “It’s a tool for us to build those working relationships,” said Jim Long, Plymouth’s community relations officer.
It led to survey results earlier this year showing that people arrested in drinking-related incidents had the most “last drinks” at a popular bar, Cowboy Jack’s. However, since then, the bar hasn’t had any issues, Long said.
“It’s improved dramatically and that’s the success we’re looking for,” he said.
The surveys also show that, in 38 percent of incidents, Plymouth residents were coming from their own home or another house, which Long said shows that retail businesses aren’t the only issue and more educational efforts are needed in the community.
Several other west and north suburbs — from Brooklyn Park, Champlin, Crystal and New Hope to South Lake Minnetonka, Chaska, Maple Grove, Wayzata, Robbinsdale, Golden Valley and Edina — are involved in the program as well as Oakdale, White Bear Lake, Mankato, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, West Hennepin Department of Public Safety and the State Patrol-West Metro.
Now, West St. Paul is the latest police department to sign on with the program this year.
“There really isn’t much follow-up to see where you come from,” West St. Paul Police Chief Bud Shaver said of alcohol-related offenses. “Now that officers are starting to write down where they’re coming from … this is a great way to be proactive and preventive.”