Wilmington mayor acknowledges alcohol law enforcement needs ahead of council vote

Wilmington mayor acknowledges alcohol law enforcement needs ahead of council vote
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 5:07 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - In the midst of tourism season, locals and visitors alike flock to downtown Wilmington’s most popular bars, restaurants and breweries. City officials, however, are looking for ways to enforce state alcohol laws.

“We’ve been wanting this for a long time,” Mayor Bill Saffo said. “And to be able to work this through with the ALE, with the ABC commission, I think is a tremendous thing for the community and for the city of Wilmington.”

The Wilmington City Council will vote on a resolution at their meeting on Tuesday that would have the city enter an agreement with the New Hanover County ABC board and appoint five officers from the Wilmington Police Department to enforce ABC laws in downtown areas.

Saffo says he’s wanted to have more enforcement for a long time now, especially as the city continues to grow. He says more people heading downtown is great for business, but can also lead to trouble if certain laws are not enforced.

“We have known for a quite number of years that we have underage drinking that is taking place in some of these establishments,” he said. “Obviously, a lot of people use fake IDs, they get into the clubs, maybe they get overserved, they may end up coming out of those clubs and endangering the public.”

Any officers that are assigned to enforce ABC laws will have to go through a state training program.

“This gives us the opportunity to deputize our officers to be able to go in and enforce ALE laws,” said Saffo. “And we think it’s a good thing for our community, for those establishments, and for the individuals that are, unfortunately, violating the law.”

City Council meets Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

Any officers assigned to alcohol law enforcement patrol will cover businesses from the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to the Isabel Holmes Bridge, and from 5th street down to the Cape Fear River.

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