StateWays - January/February 2017

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays | | January/February 2017 15 The ABC's revenue last fiscal year was $354 million. It accounted for 3% of the overall revenue for the state's general fund. says that policing an entire state with only 24 agents at the helm is a major challenge. "I've been here 32 years, and we actually have fewer peo- ple working in this area than we did years ago, and we have a whole lot more permittees than we did back then," Hanna says. The individuals currently serving on the enforcement team have a wide breadth of responsibilities. Agents oversee both enforcement and education, in addition to reviewing all license and permit applications. With the absence of an actual educa- tion department, all educational programming is supported by whatever grant money is available. Most educational outreach revolves around reaching out to middle school children in an effort to teach them about the dangers of underage drinking. Enforcement agents have a presence at events where un- derage drinking is likely to take place, such as festivals and concerts. They also do a great deal of moonshine investiga- tions and arrest individuals who buy and sell alcohol illegally. Mississippi consists of 31 dry counties and 47 wet counties. Four counties are half-wet and half-dry, and there are more wet counties for beer than there are for liquor. Adding to those complications is the fact that in 2012, the state legislature al- lowed any city with a population of 5,000 or more people to have an election on liquor, giving every dry county in Missis- sippi an opportunity to have at least one wet city. Currently, 16 wet cities reside within dry counties across the state. During the 2016 fiscal year, the ABC logged a total of 878 criminal reports, with 133 of those being purchases/illegal sales. There were 456 cases of possession of beer/alcohol by minors and 103 attempted alcoholic purchases by minors. Of the total number of arrests made by the enforcement team last year, only five defendants were ultimately found not guilty. The enforcement team also conducted 747 permit investigations and 1,851 compliance investigations. Recent accomplishments by the enforcement team in- clude the implementation of the Intellicheck mobile app for all agents. Launched in Mississippi in November 2016, the app provides agents with a quick and effective way to verify the authenticity of IDs, making it easier to spot fakes. "Anyone who wants a fake ID can get a fake ID, and they can easily get a very good one that most people would have a hard time identifying as fake," Hanna says. "That's why the app is so useful to us." Hanna thinks that underage drinking is one of the ABC's pri- mary concerns, and he worries about how effective his team can be in the future with such limited resources at their disposal. "Right now, the same guy who goes to a school and talks to sixth-graders is the person who's out doing moonshine investi- gations," he explains. "Education is something we don't spend a lot of time on. Not because we don't want to, but because the resources aren't there and we have to make do with what we have. It's frustrating because underage drinking is a huge prob- lem. Until you've seen a 19-year-old wrapped around a pole be- cause he was driving under the influence, you don't understand the impact of what's really going on here."

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