Putting a cork in over service

By Osseo Chief Shane Mikkelson

Beginning in early 2014, several law enforcement agencies began tracking data under a program called Place of Last Drink (POLD). POLD seeks to identify the location where a person last consumed alcohol when they are involved in an alcohol-related incident (DUI, assaults, and other offenses). Information collected by the investigating officer is entered into a database and used to identify patterns and to address problematic locations and serving practices.

The project began in northwest Hennepin County and was coordinated through the Partnership for Change coalition at North Memorial Health Care. Brooklyn Center, Osseo, and Plymouth Police Departments served on the initial task force. Brooklyn Park, Golden Valley, Mankato, South Lake Minnetonka, State Patrol – West Metro District, and six other departments have since joined the effort.

The task force created a database to track all officer contacts involving alcohol. Through the database, departments are able to detect patterns and identify areas to be addressed.

“Our current RMS systems don’t allow us to mine this data. The POLD system helps us see alcohol trends at the touch of a button. The offenses, retailers, days of the week, average BACs, that’s all very easy for us to get now,” shared Sgt. Patrick Toohey from Brooklyn Center Police Department, one of the original task force members. “POLD gives us data for directed patrol to use our resources wisely.”

Based on POLD data, departments can meet with retailers and have a discussion about what is happening based on data not just impressions. 

“POLD changes the conversations we have with retailers. Most departments know where their issues are, but they can’t put it together into one report or provide details during conversations with retailers.  This system has helped bring together alcohol retailers and law enforcement to ensure safe communities,” shared Chief Shane Mikkelson, Osseo Police Department.

If retailer education does not produce a decrease in over-service, cities can use the POLD information when reviewing liquor license renewals and issuing conditions. That happened in Plymouth in January of this year when, using POLD data, the Plymouth City Council issued conditions to Cowboy Jack’s, which had a high number of POLD contacts.

Rather than being used as a punitive tool, Partnership for Change coalition coordinator Sheila Nesbitt sees it as a community asset. “We want to help communities. Retailers often don’t know what happens when a customer leaves their establishment. Now they have information about patterns and can take appropriate action to reduce over service.”

The task force that created the POLD system was honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving this spring as a Policy Setter Award recipient.  The award recognized the group’s dedication to working to save lives on Minnesota’s roadways by reducing impaired driving.

For more information or to join the Place of Last Drink system, contact Shane Mikkelson, [email protected] or 763-400-7402.