Monday, April 3, 2017
OFF THE WIRE
Earlier this week, agents with the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control hand delivered more than 30 letters to restaurants and bars in and around Charlottesville warning the taverns that they may be shut down if they serve patrons wearing motorcycle club insignia.
The action follows a recent, new expansion of the Department’s Bureau of Law Enforcement. Last December, according to the department, “On December 1, 2016, the Bureau of Law Enforcement received accreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission, putting it in an elite group of enforcement agencies. The accreditation program is a thorough inspection and review of agency policies, procedures, processes and operations as defined by 190 stringent standards.” The department’s Bureau of Law Enforcement is also increasing the number of its officers.
Multiple news reports state the new enforcement effort is in response to a “a dust-up between a member of a motorcycle club and another customer.”
The contents of the letters have not been published on the Commonwealth or Department’s websites but the Virginia ABC did issue a statement. It warned:
“Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement Region 9 distributed a letter addressed to Region Nine on premise licensees advising them of an increase in outlaw motorcycle gang activity in on premise ABC licensed establishments. This letter was created in response to information received from four local law enforcement agencies within the Charlottesville region. The letter was provided as an educational resource for licensees and was hand-delivered to approximately 30 licensees in the region during inspections and day to day interactions. Special agents are continuing to distribute the letters.
“The letter includes applicable sections of Virginia Code and states that all Virginia ABC licensees should take reasonable measures to prevent their establishments from becoming a meeting place or rendezvous for members of a criminal street gang or from becoming a place where patrons of the establishment commit criminal violations. The letter also advises licensees of potential penalties that could be incurred in the event of a violation. It does not state that licensees should decline service to certain individuals and does not require any specific actions on the part of the licensee.
“At their request, Virginia ABC is working with the following local law enforcement agencies on this effort: Town of Orange Police Department; Town of Louisa Police Department; Louisa County Sheriff’s Office; and the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.”
Louisa Police Chief Ronnie Roberts told Charlottesville television station WVIR that the colors ban is aimed at members of one percenter motorcycle clubs. “Those one percenters, the ones that create the problems for us in law enforcement and the criminal activity, is the area we need to focus on,” Roberts said. “What we’ve done is try to make sure everybody is on the same page and not leaving anyone out, so everyone knows what the regulatory issues are.”