Lack of Funding to Affect Security at Utah Liquor Stores | Buzz Blog
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Lack of Funding to Affect Security at Utah Liquor Stores

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The same day that the liquor bosses of the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control were excoriated by lawmakers for mistreating employees, the department also sent out a surprise notice to security coordinators notifying them that the department would no longer be renewing contracts with local law-enforcement officers to provide security at state liquor stores.

Traditionally these contracts were made by stores with individual law enforcement officers in the cities and towns where the stores are located, providing officers a chance to make money while off-duty.

DABC Executive Director Sal Petilos at a recent commission meeting defended his department's leadership and said they weren't treating employees unfairly but were reacting appropriately to legislative audits from recent years that dinged the department for fraudulent and wasteful practices.

Now it seems that the department lacks the funding to contract with moonlighting cops to police their stores.

In a statement provided by DABC spokeswoman Vickie Ashby, the department explained that security services would change but not go away.

"For the 2015-16 fiscal budget year, DABC's appropriation was reduced from the previous year. As a result, the department is adjusting its operations to accommodate the reduced funding," the statement reads adding that beginning on July 1 the department would no longer contract with various officers of different municipalities but would instead go through a single "security provider."

"We appreciate the service that has been provided by existing security staff and we consider it unfortunate that we have to move in another direction for security services," the statement reads.

Salt Lake City Weekly documented the sometimes controversial practice of law enforcement's off-duty security contracts in the September, 17, 2014 cover story "Rent a Cop." Documents provided to City Weekly for that story showed that in 2013, the state liquor agency, which pays off-duty officers $25 an hour, paid 68 cops $434,543, which averages out to $6,390 per officer.

“There’s a possibility to make quite a bit of money if you’re working these things,” Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank said in the 2014 story while noting that if officers are relying too heavily on part-time work to pay the bills, they should probably get their priorities straight.

The DABC has to go through a bid process before they decide who the new security provider will be for all of the state's 44 liquor and wine stores.

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