liquor licensing and enforcement - april 2021
Liquor Licensing and Enforcement
Released April 2021
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We undertook this audit at a City Council member’s request due to illegal activity surrounding some licensed establishments. We reviewed Police’s License and Permits Unit licensing process to ensure that it was consistent with code and administered fairly, and we examined enforcement activities to assess whether procedures were fair and consistent with industry standards.
- The department has allocated insufficient staff to implement all required procedures.
- Due to 11 of 21 positions currently filled within the Unit, processes for application vetting and acceptance of required materials, as well as annual inspections of licensed establishments fail to meet code requirements and introduce corruption and fraud risks.
- Standard operating procedures and industry standards require the License and Permits Unit to inspect all licensed establishments annually. The Unit is unable to consistently enforce this procedure due to insufficient staff.
- Complaints are investigated at the Unit supervisor’s discretion, although procedures state all complaints warrant an investigation.
- Due cause packages are also applied on a discretionary basis, although the mayoral approval requirement contributes to inconsistency in the process.