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Program Re-Allocating Resources for Liquor Establishment Inspections

Story by WBGZ Radio

 A pilot program dubbed LC13 by those involved has the state re-allocating resources to local government in order to inspect retail liquor establishments. And it’s getting some high marks from those participating in the program.


The program began in 2015 and has the state training local inspectors to do compliance checks with liquor establishments like bars and liquor stores. So far, the state says they’ve tapped 61 local governments to do the inspections for nearly 5,480 establishments.


The governments range from the Wabash County Health Department with seven establishments to the St. Clair County Health Department with 425.


The Douglas County Sheriff’s department is part of the pilot and is responsible for inspecting 49 businesses. Chief Deputy Greg Dixon said the program helps foster better working relationships with liquor businesses.


“We enhance our relationship to the point that [liquor licence holders will] call us on other issues unrelated to the LC13 project that we probably would have never gotten a call for before, just because we have developed a better relationship with them,” Dixon said.


One of four local inspectors in Douglas County tapped by the state, Dixon said they now get calls from liquor establishments with compliance questions, such as whether they can hang certain signage about liquor.


“Before they would have just done it, just put it up,” Dixon said. “Now they know I’ll be there in 30 minutes or less.”


Peoria's City/County Health Department is responsible for 414 businesses. Environmental Health Director Wil Hayes said they're able to kill two birds with one stone.


“A lot of it really overlaps with what we’re doing in our food safety inspection,” Hayes said. “Or it’s stuff we can look at and see when we’re walking around doing our food safety inspection. So there’s not a lot of additional time required.”


The Illinois Liquor Control Commission gives local inspectors taking part in the program $75 per inspection. Inspectors report findings to the state, which follows up if needed.


Hayes said it’s about maximizing manpower.


“[The state is] realizing the reality that they just don’t have the manpower to do inspections in all these places all the time,” Hayes said. “And there are bigger issues they need to concentrate their time on.”


Hayes said the state needs to continue focusing on other enforcement efforts to curb the illegal sale of booze to minors.


Dixon, who retired from state police, said the program absolutely saves resources.


“We’re right here,” Dixon said. “We don’t have to travel from Springfield or from Chicago, and we see these [retailers] everyday.”


The Illinois Liquor Control Commission said the partnership leads to better annual inspection coverage.


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