NLLEA Conference

The 29th Annual NLLEA Conference “Improving Communities through Comprehensive Alcohol Law Enforcement Strategies”, co-hosted by the Colorado Department of Revenue Liquor and Tobacco Enforcement Division, took place in Westminster, Colorado from September 21 to September 23, 2015 at Westin Westminster. 

NLLEA Conference 2015

Photos (l. to r.): The Westminster Honor Guard presenting the colors at the opening ceremonies; NLLEA President Joseph Cannon welcoming attendees; NLLEA Immediate Past President Frederick Mahony presenting about media strategies; Captain Ron Swenson from Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission presenting on undercover training; Justin Nordhorn, Chief of Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board moderating a panel on marijuana regulation; Todd Hoose, NHTSA Highway Safety Specialist, updating attendees on NHTSA research; David Reitz and Bob Reynolds discussing ways alcohol law enforcement and public health can work together; Agent in Charge Harold Torrens from the Ohio Investigative Unit serving on the models of enforcement panel; NLLEA media consultant Michelle Blackston presenting on the relationship between media and alcohol law enforcement.

The NLLEA Conference Opening Ceremonies began Monday afternoon, September 21, with the Presentation of the Colors by the Westminster Police Department Honor Guard. NLLEA President, Joseph Cannon, made opening remarks and then introduced Westminster Police Department Chief, Lee Birk, who welcomed everyone to Westminster, Colorado. Following Chief Birk, Colorado Department of Revenue Liquor and Tobacco Enforcement Division Director, Patrick Maroney, spoke to the group.

Following their gracious welcome, the conference engaged in the first general session, Alcohol Law Enforcement and Public Health: What have we learned and where can we go? The panel was comprised of four seasoned professionals, three panelists and one moderator, from both public health and alcohol law enforcement backgrounds. The session gave a brief overview of the path taken by the NLLEA over the past 15 years, discussing achievements and challenges, and raised suggestions for the future direction of NLLEA and its membership, including continued partnerships between public health and alcohol law enforcement.

NLLEA members then attended the President’s Reception at Kachina Southwestern Grill. The reception gave professionals in the field an opportunity to share best practices with one another in an informal setting.

Workshops and Sessions

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Todd Hoose, Highway Safety Specialist, started off Tuesday morning’s agenda by updating attendees on the current programs and research being conducted by NHTSA. Todd also outlined ways NHTSA and alcohol law enforcement agencies can partner.  

Following the NHTSA update, the general session Alcohol Law Enforcement and the Media: Building a Positive Relationship to Promote Public Safety provided insight into ways alcohol law enforcement agencies can strengthen their relationship with media groups in a proactive way. The panelists, made up of two alcohol law enforcement professionals and a media consultant, walked through specific strategies an agency can use when getting a message out, including social media and other less traditional channels of communication.

After the general session, participants were able to choose from three different workshops. One workshop, Underage Drinking: Major Events Enforcement from State to Disposition in Colorado, outlined specialized strategies and skills required to enforce underage drinking laws at large-scale events. The second workshop, Pay to Play: A Case Review from Massachusetts, walked through a recent trade practice investigation conducted in Massachusetts. The third workshop, Strategies to Gain Voluntary Compliance in California, discussed ways alcohol law enforcement professionals can work with licensees to proactively address license requirements and stop violations before they happen.

The afternoon’s lunch included roundtable discussions on current topics facing alcohol law enforcement professionals and agencies. Attendees were encouraged to sit at a table that was discussing a topic that interested them. The topics included: illegal gambling, Place of Last Drink (POLD), alcohol law enforcement training needs, false IDs, new alcohol beverage products, tobacco compliance checks, trade practices, college events, licensed premise inspections, and sales to intoxicated operations.

Lunch was followed by a general session addressing Alcohol Law Enforcement: Panel Discussion on Different Structures, Models and Authority for Enforcement. The panelists discussed strategies being utilized in their state agencies to address changes and challenges being faced each year. Staffing, available resources, and restructuring were discussed, including potential loss of enforcement powers.

On Wednesday, attendees heard from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Colorado Department of Revenue on Marijuana Enforcement: A Discussion of Current Approaches. Both presenters provided attendees with a first-hand look at the evolution of legalized marijuana regulation and enforcement. As laws continue to change throughout the country, more alcohol law enforcement agencies are considering approaches to legalized marijuana should it become legalized in their States. This session outlined approaches and strategies to creating a regulation and enforcement program, helping prepare for possible future changes in other states.

The morning’s general session was followed by three workshop options. Building Capacity, Outcomes and Sustainability: A Statewide Approach to Underage Drinking Enforcement Training in South Carolina outlined South Carolina’s statewide Alcohol Enforcement Teams (AET) and how they approach compliance checks, party dispersals, saturation patrols, and more. The second workshop, Creating a Greater Awareness of Alcohol Law Enforcement in Pennsylvania looked at changes the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement made from an undercover status to full-time uniformed agents to create an enforcement presence in the community. The third workshop, The Texas Training Model for Undercover Operations, outlined the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s week-long undercover school, including undercover operations inside licensed establishments.

Annual Business Meeting

The Annual Business Meeting was held Tuesday afternoon, with the membership voting to approve all business conducted by the NLLEA Executive Board during the past year.  The members were updated on the cooperative agreement with NHTSA, the fiscal standing of the association, and the training symposium held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2015. The membership then approved new members and elected Chief Justin Nordhorn of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to the position of NLLEA Sergeant-at-Arms.

NLLEA Awards Luncheon

The conference ended Wednesday with the NLLEA Awards Luncheon. The luncheon began with a tribute to fallen officers and was followed by a luncheon and presentation of the annual NLLEA awards. Award recipients included: the Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition, the Prevention Council of Roanoke County, and the Roanoke Prevention Alliance receiving the John W. Britt Community Service Award; Indiana State Excise Police receiving the Innovative Liquor Law Enforcement Program of the Year; Agents Elden Shepherd and Israel Hernandez of the California ABC receiving the Liquor Law Enforcement co-Agent of the Year Award; and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission receiving the Liquor Law Enforcement Agency of the Year Award. The NLLEA also presented a Service Award to the Colorado Department of Revenue Liquor and Tobacco Enforcement Division for co-hosting the conference and a Meritorious Service Award to Joseph Cannon for serving as the NLLEA Board President for 2014-2015. (Check out the NLLEA Awards page for more details.) 

Past President James Wilson swore in the 2015-2016 NLLEA Board of Directors:  President Wesley Kuhl, Vice President James Jones, Secretary/Treasurer Jermaine Galloway, Sergeant-At-Arms Justin Nordhorn, and Immediate Past President Joseph Cannon.

The 29th Annual NLLEA conference brought together alcohol law enforcement professionals from across North America and abroad. The NLLEA thanks the presenters for their thought-provoking and informative sessions and looks forward to next year’s conference. Stay tuned for information about the 30th Annual Conference to be held in the fall of 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.




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