Cheers owners respond to bust, working to improve ID scanning
“The last thing we want to have is a bunch of kids doing illegal activities here,” says Steve Mihaljevic, an owner of Cheers Bar and Grill.
Excise officers conducted an unannounced compliance check at their bar, Cheers Bar and Grill, Thursday night. Police confiscated over 50 fake IDs and issued over 70 citations for underage drinking.
“It was definitely, they were coming in full force to get maximum number of kids as they could,” says owner Doug Michael.
They say it’s an issue of sophisticated fake IDs.
They tell ABC57 staff scans all IDs, using software meant to weave out the fakes, but as the technology improves, so does the quality of the fake IDs.
“We run these things, we wand them, we check them on the scanner, if the scanner clears and shows that they’re legal, that’s the best that we can do,” Mihaljevic explains. “Beyond that, we’ll double check sometimes with their school ID, the name is the same as the supposed fake ID, so there’s not much else we can do as bar owners beyond what we’re doing right now.”
Chief Avery Minor with the Roseland Police Department, who got the ball rolling on Thursday's sting after hearing several complaints about underage drinking at the bar, admits that good quality fake IDs are easier to get than he thought.
“I’m on a website looking at it right now, all I have to do is take my picture and make a payment and I’ll have one here in two weeks,” Chief Minor says. “So that’s going to be something that I have a discussion with other agencies and see how they’re curbing that.”
The Cheers owners say police were able to look up the Driver’s License Numbers to see if an ID was legit, something their scanners can't do.
They say while they are installing new ID check software this week, some responsibility needs to be had on the kids that are getting their hands on illegal credentials and putting their business at risk.
“This wasn’t a one and done, we will be doing random periodic checks, "Chief Minor warns. “Maybe not next week, maybe not next month, but we definitely want to keep Cheers and the patrons honest.”
“It’s really going to have to come down to some sort of reprimand for the kids by the school, the parents, or the police department and kind of us take some of this pressure off of us and help us out,” Mihaljevic says.
Chief Minor says the issue may go before the town council to potentially fine Cheers Bar and Grill, but in the meantime, the owners are actively working with excise police to try their best to catch underage drinkers more efficiently.