Schenectady County

Officials aim to curb drinking at concerts

Tipplers attending Albany’s Alive at Five concert series this year will be expected to imbibe respon

Tipplers attending Albany’s Alive at Five concert series this year will be expected to imbibe responsibly, city officials said.

Organizers and local authorities will be keeping a closer eye on the amount of booze flowing at the concerts this spring and summer. And they won’t tolerate those fans who are visibly intoxicated or drinking alcohol while under-age.

Plain clothes police officers patrolling the concerts will be armed with new technology that will allow them to test everything from liquid they suspect is alcohol to the air being exhaled by someone appearing drunk. Sgt. Lenny Crouch, Albany County’s STOP DWI coordinator, said the new initiative is a multi-agency effort aimed at ensuring the summertime venue remains safe for the throngs of music lovers attending the free concert series, which launches its 20th season Thursday.

“It’s about making sure people know they have a personal responsibility if they attend an event like this to drink responsibly,” he said Monday.

Mayor Gerald Jennings is supportive of the measure. Bob VanAmburgh, the mayor’s executive assistant, said the increased scrutiny is rooted in the city’s desire to keep the Alive at Five concerts safe and enjoyable for all who attend.

“Coupled with an element of personal responsibility, I think there’s also a responsibility by the provider to ensure all the necessary safeguards are in place,” he said.

Crouch said all of the Alive at Five staff attended sessions with Training for Intervention Procedures, a program aimed at teaching safe practices for serving alcohol. He said event managers also will have the authority to remove wristbands from those people exhibiting signs of intoxication.

Organizers are also organizing a safe ride program with a local cab company. Crouch said the safe rides should help deliver people home safely instead of to a city jail cell on drunken driving charges.

Last August, DWI checkpoints set up 90 minutes after an Alive at Five concert nabbed nearly three dozen drunk drivers over a four-hour period, a record high for such a dragnet. Authorities conducting the sweep said most of the people arrested had a blood-alcohol content more than double the legal limit to drive.

But because the checks began nearly two hours after the event, city officials could not blame all the arrests on Alive at Five. In truth, Crouch said, most of those arrested had continued to drink at local bars and restaurants once the concert ended.

The new approach toward alcohol use at Alive at Five won’t be confined to just the city. Crouch said officials intend to employ a similar approach to all the bigger events taking place in Albany County, such as the large concerts at the Altamont Fairgrounds.

“By working together collectively, we have a better chance of assuring safety not only at Alive at Five, but at any large-scale events in the county,” he said.

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