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West Sacramento, retailers join forces to curb booze sales

West Sacramento Officer Rinaldo Monterrosa, right; Jim Nasser, whose family owns A&B Liquor; and state Alcoholic Beverage Control supervising agent Kathryn Sandberg speak to the media in West Sacramento on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, to announce the launch of a program to encourage merchants to curb alcohol sales to inebriated customers.
West Sacramento Officer Rinaldo Monterrosa, right; Jim Nasser, whose family owns A&B Liquor; and state Alcoholic Beverage Control supervising agent Kathryn Sandberg speak to the media in West Sacramento on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, to announce the launch of a program to encourage merchants to curb alcohol sales to inebriated customers. dvsmith@sacbee.com

A West Sacramento police officer’s idea to help merchants combat public drunkenness, loitering and other misbehavior has evolved into a civic campaign to curb alcohol sales and head off problems at their businesses.

The program, dubbed TEAM, or Together Everyone Achieves More, supports shop owners’ efforts not to sell booze to inebriated customers. Merchants meet with police and Alcoholic Beverage Control officials for training in proper beverage sales and how to spot intoxication and defuse potential problems. The businesses receive window decals showing their commitment to the program while officers on the lookout for trouble check in with store owners, walk and cruise the beat.

It makes it a whole lot safer. The more cops out here, the better.

A & B Liquor store owner Jim Nasser, on TEAM program

Thursday marked TEAM’s official launch in West Sacramento, but nearly 20 businesses along the West Capitol Avenue corridor and in the city’s Broderick and Bryte neighborhoods are already on board, said West Sacramento police Officer Rinaldo Monterrosa, who first developed the idea for TEAM in Broderick and Bryte in early 2014, then brought the concept to West Capitol storekeepers nearly six months ago.

“One of the main missions is to minimize calls for service. It shows (merchants) are willing to clean up their stores and put forth their effort,” Monterrosa said. “We’re working in connection with (Alcoholic Beverage Control). Every licensee and clerk will be able to be trained by ABC. It’s a great partnership,” Monterrosa said.

Shopkeeper Jim Nasser welcomed the program he joined little more than three months ago. His family has owned A&B Liquor on West Capitol for 22 years, long enough to recall the strip’s rougher days, but he’s seen trouble outside more recently, too. West Sacramento Police Department service call data show 51 calls for service since March within a 500-foot radius of A&B’s address in the 2300 block of West Capitol.

“There were a lot of transients who liked to drink, then pass out here,” Nasser told reporters outside his shop, the backdrop for the program’s launch.

Nasser said he’s had to make fewer calls to police since joining the new effort. Other store owners along the West Capitol corridor have even paid A&B a visit to learn more about the initiative, he said.

“It makes it a whole lot safer,” Nasser said of the program and police presence. “The more cops out here, the better.”

Monterrosa had responded to the calls all too often while patrolling the beat as a senior lead officer in West Sacramento’s Broderick and Bryte neighborhoods: fights, disturbances, drunk-in-public complaints – the quality-of-life crimes outside the neighborhoods’ liquor stores, mini-marts and gas stations that largely stemmed from alcohol abuse. Early in 2014, Monterrosa began talking and listening to the merchants there.

“I was finding solutions to the issues that were pointed out to me through the community. I was getting a lot of calls for service in that area for alcohol-related issues. That’s where the idea started,” Monterrosa said. “I sold the idea (for TEAM) to store owners and asked if they were willing to meet at the department.” A six-month pilot program of targeted policing and alcohol sales training at four neighborhood stores led to dramatically fewer calls and safer store trips for patrons, he said.

In smaller cities such as West Sacramento, idea can quickly become initiative and so it was with TEAM. Business owners, the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce and Alcoholic Beverage Control soon joined the effort.

“When we can get local law enforcement to join hands with us to clean up an area and when agencies get together, we’re doing a good service for people in the communities we serve,” said Sgt. Kathryn Sandberg, a supervising Alcoholic Beverage Control agent in the agency’s Sacramento office.

Earlier this year, Monterrosa took his pitch to West Capitol’s store owners. They were eager to hear it. By Monterrosa’s count, 15 businesses signed up, and the program may spread across West Sacramento.

“I hope it’s a catalyst,” Monterrosa said.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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