While the Indiana University school year just got underway, alcohol related citations in Bloomington are already on their way up from last year.
State Excise Police officers have issued more than 400 tickets this year, reaching close to about the 500 issued last year. Public information officer Travis Thickstun said, Bloomington is among the top three communities in the state to have a problem with underage drinking.
On Thursday, Fox 59’s Aishah Hasnie and Derik Hughes tagged along with Thickstun and two other plain clothed excise officers working the streets of Bloomington trying to stop underage drinkers.
Our camera caught several underage drinkers get ticketed, people urinating in public, and even someone vandalizing a police squad car.
We followed the officers weave through the crowds outside and inside bars to make sure both drinkers and servers were following the law.
On this particular night, a doorman outside the Kilroy’s Sports Bar on Walnut caught an underage drinker trying to get and turned him into officer Thickstun.
The bar was recently slammed with alcohol-related citations for letting in and serving 20-year-old missing IU student Lauren Spierer on the night she vanished.
Thickstun took the young man’s I.D and confronted him.
"You lie to me, I'm gonna take you to jail. Fair enough?,” asked Thickstun. “This isn't you. This isn't your picture. How old are you?"
At first, the young man replied, "I'm 21.” But a few moments later, he admitted, “Okay, I'm 19."
Thickstun quickly put the man in handcuffs and walked him to his squad car where he tried to I.D him. But the underage drinker was not cooperating, giving Thickstun three different ages, four dates of birth, and three different names.
"That's the third name you've given me now," Thickstun said frustrated. "You're on video and audio the whole time! I wrote it down three different ways!"
Without a real identity, Thickstun and the other officers took the young man to Bloomington’s jail.
"They all have their own story. Their own set of circumstances,” said Thickstun afterwards. “And the officers deal with them individually."
There has been an upside this year. Excise officers have noticed that bars are stepping up and cooperating more with them.
"I have seen a change in the attitude of some establishments being more willing to work with us," said Thickstun.
That's good enough for Thickstun who believes teamwork is the only thing that's going to slow down this growing problem.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun