Undercover state police officers, like those who cited 31 students at Spring Fling in April, will patrol the Made in America music festival this weekend, looking for liquor law violations such as underage consumption of alcohol.
Officers, who will be dressed in both plain clothes and uniforms, will work with the Philadelphia Police Department to issue citations — and, when necessary, arrests — to individuals in violation of the law, said Dan Steele, the district commander of the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement.
They will look for a range of liquor law violations, including underage consumption and sale of alcohol to minors. Steele said that officers are authorized to ask anyone who appears youthful and who is either in possession of an alcoholic beverage or demonstrates signs of drunkenness — such as the smell of alcohol or glassy eyes — to produce identification of their age.
The officers will also be authorized to verify that vendors at the event do not sell alcohol to anyone under 21. Should a vendor fail one of these “age compliance” checks, they could face fines or problems securing a special event permit in the future.
Individuals found in violation of the law face license suspensions and fines, with punishments increasing in severity for anything but a first-time offense.
BLCE officers were not present at the inaugural Made in America festival in 2012, but after a number of underage drinking incidents and hospital transports at last year’s event, the office decided that they should be present at this weekend’s edition of the festival.
“If you are under 21 years old, do not consume alcoholic beverages,” Steele said. “It’s just not worth it.”
The department also made a recent return visit to campus. The BLCE, along with individuals from the Division of Public Safety and the office of Alcohol and Other Drugs, also visited several off campus houses that Steele called “of concern” last week to inform them about University and state policy regarding alcohol consumption. The representatives also “provided information about the LCE and their increased presence at universities throughout the Commonwealth,” according to DPS.
Steele said that DPS and the University administration reached out to the State Police for assistance with the initiative.
“The less use of alcohol illegally and irresponsibly, the less sexual assaults you have, the less fighting you have,” he said. “So ultimately our goal is the safety of the students.”
Though he did not have specific dates or events in mind, Steele said that BLCE officers could return to campus at any time to reduce underage consumption and the sale of alcohol by those without a license — such as a party that asks for a cover charge at the door.
“We have a great relationship with the University and the University of Pennsylvania Police Department,” Steele said. “They have basically given us an open door policy for the campus. We are more than welcome to come enforce the alcohol laws at any point.”
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