Lt. Steve Freel, Casper Police Department (Ernie Over photo)

(Riverton, Wyo.) – A presentation from a Casper Liquor dealer and a Casper Police Lieutenant seems to have calmed the waters over a proposal to institute a “demerit points system” for Riverton liquor businesses.

When the idea was first proposed by the Fremont County Prevention Management Organization, the liquor dealers in town organized and let it be known their near unanimous and very strong opposition to the idea.

On Tuesday afternoon this week, Poplar Wine and Spirits owner Mike Reid and Lt. Steve Freel talked about the system that was put in place in Casper, how it has succeeded and how the fears of liquor dealers in Wyoming’s second largest city were addressed.  Reid has been a liquor dealer for the past 18 years.

He said he was a member of the Casper City Council when a demerit points system was first introduced around 1990. He said that system was developed in cooperation with the liquor industry there. “We wanted to be fair and be able to tell who was a bad operator and who wasn’t. That way if somebody claimed a business was not a good operator, they could say look at my demerit points,” he said. “That was the idea behind it.”

Mike Reid, Casper Liquor Dealer

Mike Reid, Casper Liquor Dealer

He said the only way to get a demerit was if a business failed a compliance check in an underage sting or if they were operating prostitution out of their business, and such.

Reid said there were some bad operators in his town, and those businesses were sold without the demerit system coming into play.

Recently, however, the PMO there became involved to update the system and Reid said it was a seven month-long process working with the liquor industry and the CPD to negotiate a plan that everyone could agree on. “For the liquor association, it was decided we all needed to be on the same page and we would know what we would get if a member did something wrong.”

To date, Reid and Freel said not one liquor establishment in Casper has been denied a license do to demerits.

“Under our updated system, if all of the businesses employees are TIPS trained and you get caught in a sting, you get a free one, which is a nice little perk, but only one,” he said.

Freel said the liquor association members, the CPD and the PMO meet monthly and talk about problems and solutions.

“We want to be fair across the board,” Freel said. “We go to every establishment in town before any one is visited again, rather than hitting the same places all the time.”

Freel said the success of the program is due to communication. “The biggest thing we’ve done is sitting down and talking. We had to work through some issues. At the beginning it was us against them, now we are working together.

“By being proactive, this shows the community that law enforcement and the liquor industry is all working together, the trust and respect level is really what has helped.”

“We all want to do something to help our businesses and the public perception of them,” said Randy Archer from the Back Bar, who offered the most questions about the process at Tuesday’s meeting.

Bonnie Hildner, from the Bull & Bistro, said Riverton’s attempt “got off on the wrong foot.” She said “We need to keep sit down and keep talking. It won’t happen overnight.”

Local businesses who attended and listened to the presentation included: Walmart, Miss Ginney’s Roost, the Back Bar, Maverik Country Store, Ralffs, Boot Bar, Rocky Mountain Liquor, Woodward’s Liquor, the Cedar Bar, and Bar 10.

Two dozen people signed in to hear a presentation on Casper's Liquor demerit points system on Tuesday. In the crowd were Mayor Ron Warpness, City Administrator Steven Weaver and city council members Richard Gard and Martin Canaan. (Ernie Over)

Two dozen people signed in to hear a presentation on Casper’s Liquor demerit points system on Tuesday. In the crowd were Mayor Ron Warpness, City Administrator Steven Weaver and city council members Richard Gard and Martin Canaan. (Ernie Over Photo)