What You Don't Know Will Close You
According to reliable sources within the SFPD, the ABC is currently conducting undercover operations in San Francisco’s nightclubs. The ABC is investigating drug sales; this could be sales by patrons of the establishment to other patrons, or by employees. Either situation will usually mean that the offending club’s liquor license will be revoked. We have been told that there are five “large clubs” that will have charges filed against them.
These investigations come in waves. There has been at least two in recent years that have netted some major clubs. How it works is that the ABC sends in uncover officers to make buys, usually, repeatedly, over a short period of time. The undercover officers ask security and bartenders where they can score and if anyone employed by you or who is otherwise associated with your club (the guy carrying the Dj’s vinyl?) sells or even nods at the person over at the end of the bar then the licensee could be responsible and prosecuted in the ABC court.
At your hearing, the big question will be whether you “knew or should have known,” if drugs were being sold on your premises. Unfortunately, the deck is stacked against you because law enforcement’s perspective is that an owner or operator of a nightclub should always know in such activity is happening. In reality though, it is easy for an owner not to see drug dealing on their premises, especially when many of the cliques that have grown up around your long-term employees may be friends and family to you.
Zero drug tolerance policies and proactive employee training are two actions you can take to make sure that no drug activity is taking place in your venue. If you are suspicious that drug sales might be happening, you may consider hiring a private investigator. Taking these steps proactively can help to mitigate fines and penalties even if an investigation is currently in progress.