Selmer suspends beer licenses

By Jeff Whitten

The Selmer Beer Board suspended the beer licenses at their June 13 meeting of two stores for allegedly selling beer to undercover informants without verifying their ages.

They suspended the license of the BP station for 90 days and the Super Mini’s for 30 days. This was the first offense for the Super Mini under the present ownership but the second for BP.

The charges came about as a result of an undercover operation, according to Selmer Police Investigator Ted Roberts. Roberts recounted the details of the operation to the board. 

He said the operation occurred on June 1 and involved himself and Officer Lynn Ingle.The sting involved attempting to buy beer from all Selmer stores with a license. The undercover informant was only successful in buying beer from the BP and Super Mini, Roberts said.

The informant went into the stores, attempted to buy beer and told the clerks that he forgot his identification. The informant gave the clerks his date of birth and the clerks completed the purchases, Roberts said. He said that the clerks were then cited and that they had not yet had their court date, which is July 15.

In response to a question from Alderman John Smith, City Attorney Terry Abernathy said there was no legal requirement that the city wait until after the court date to take action against these businesses. 

Roberts said that this was the first such operation in 18 months and that he sent letters to businesses that did card the undercover informant telling them about the operation and the results for their business.

Police Chief Neal Burks noted that Roberts had offered to explain the beer laws to new clerks.

“We’re not out there trying to just catch them, but we don’t want them selling beer to minors,” Selmer Police Chief Neal Burks said.

BP Manager Tim Hurst replied, “We preach that to clerks over and over again.”

Roberts said that the number of violations was down from eight since the last such operation.

“We can curtail it down to zero. That is my overall goal,” Roberts said.

Abernathy explained, “If a person gives a bogus ID, the store is off the hook.”

Roberts added that if a person looks less than 50 years old, the store clerk is required by law to card that person. 

“This is not a blatant thing that they decided to do. They did it though. The law is there, so there is nothing for this board to do but follow the law.”

Simpson explained that for a second offense the law allows the board to suspend the license for up to six months or even to suspend it permanently. 

“I don’t see how you can hold the business responsible for the actions of their employees,” Hurst said.

“That’s the law,” Simpson said.

“When you fired the two police employees, did the chief get a reprimand?” Hurst asked rhetorically.

“As far as I know, they didn’t break the law, they broke the policy,” Mayor David Robinson responded.

Simpson added, “As long as that is the law, we have to follow it.”