In an effort to cut down on the sale of alcohol to intoxicated customers and minors, police from the Rampart area have been meeting with liquor store and market owners and employees.
"We know you make your money from liquor sales, but it's a matter of doing what's good for the community," Lt. Jerry C. Szymanski of the Rampart Division vice unit told about 20 people at a recent meeting organized by Ken Lee, owner of Big 6 Market at 6th Street and Rampart Boulevard.
In the Rampart area, 560 businesses have licenses to sell alcoholic beverages, Szymanski said. Illegal sales and use of alcohol contribute to public drunkenness, assaults and accidents, he said.
It is illegal to sell alcohol to the intoxicated. Bartenders often have hours in which to observe customers, but liquor store and market employees usually have only a few seconds to assess sobriety, Szymanski said. Employees need to take the time to determine whether customers show symptoms of intoxication, he said.
Lee, who also owns two other stores, said he plans to conduct his own seminars for Korean merchants who might be unfamiliar certain business practices and their legal responsibilities with regard to the sale of alcohol.
"It used to be that our first thought was to make money, but from now on we want to refresh our style of business and build good relationships in the community," Lee said. Rampart officers have met with about 45 store owners so far and plan to reach most of the others in the area by year's end, Szymanski said.
The meetings are part of the Police Department's Vice Impact Sobriety Training Awareness program, which was originally designed as a training session for restaurant and bar employees to help them identify and handle intoxicated patrons. The program was expanded to include liquor outlets.
Rampart vice information: (213) 485-4081.