Riverton liquor dealers, from right, Ricci Larsen of the Time Out Lounge, Randy Archer of The Back Bar and Jason Hawk from Bar Ten were three of nine liquor dealers at Thursday’s meeting. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Riverton Liquor Dealers said Thursday they believe efforts to monitor their businesses are misguided and miss the main problem. In a presentation to the Fremont County Prevention Organization and Police Chief Mike Broadhead on Thursday, spokeswoman Ricci Larsen read from a prepared statement.

“We believe that we do have a problem in this town with the habitual alcoholics in the park and on the rails to trails. We feel as a group that this is where your focus should be directed,” she said. “If the bars and liquor stores are getting a bad reputation in this town, it is because we are never recognized for the good things that we do.”

As a start, Larsen suggested that the businesses who pass the RPD sting operations be given credit, and not just list those who received citations for selling to underage persons. She also suggested that an advertising campaign be launched “that says we do have a low DUI rate.” She also said that businesses who have their staff trained in the TIPS program be given credit.”We as bar owners and liquor dealers are doing a good job at self monitoring. Most keep a daily journal for any incidents,” she said. “The police department is also keeping a close eye on us and we have faith that they are doing their jobs to ensure that we do ours.”

The issue of instituting a “check list” system for rating bars and liquor dealers gained some traction through the work of the Solutions Committee, and that recommendation was forwarded to the city council for discussion. No action has yet been taken by the council.

Community Prevention Professsional Kelly Rees said such a list or scoring systems were in place and working in such locations as Gillette, Laramie and Casper, and the local check list was patterned after the existing ones in those communities. Rees pointed out that the most important substance abuse issue facing Fremont County was alcohol.

In the Community Attitudes toward Alcohol Use and Abuse report, 71 percent of 367 responses said alcohol was the biggest problem. Methamphetamine was ranked second in that survey with 76 responses, or 20 percent.

“We don’t feel any checklist is to anyone’s benefit,” Larsen said. “We want to help you take this in a positive direction.”

Rees said she appreciated the input. “It is good to know where you stand, and I hope you continue to sit down as an association,” she said.

Broadhead said the goals of the liquor dealers and the police department “are not necessarily the same.” He said the liquor establishments are focusing on their business while police officers are investigating possible crimes. “Those are not mutually agreeable goals.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, the bar owners, after receiving assurances that their calls to police would not be used against them, seemed to agree that they would call police sooner if a problem developed inside their business. “If it’s not a black mark against us, we’d be more than willing,” Larsen said.