Excise police continue campus-area alcohol patrols
On Thursday night, as we ride along with excise police, officers had barely started their duty shift when Cpl. Travis Thickstun spots a possible violation.
"Okay, I think I'm going to have one here in a Honda Accord."
He pulls over the car and finds the driver, age 19, is illegally transporting alcohol just bought at a liquor store.
It's all poured on the ground, and the 19-year-old gets a ticket. "I just want to say I'm sorry, really sorry," he says. I was hoping to have a really good year this year and not get arrested. That was my goal."
Excise and local police officers are inside bars and liquor stores, even grocery and drug stores, looking for the big alcohol purchases.
"The underage drinking party will occur later tonight," says Thickstun. "If we can stop the alcohol the minors are attempting to buy now, we can stop that from happening."
Before long, agents pull over another car.
"You're 19," says the officer. "What did you use to buy the alcohol at the liquor store." It turns out he his brother's license and other identification.
"Everyone does it," another 19-year-old told us.
We asked him if today's arrest will change his approach. "My approach yes, but not everyone else's... not trying to get caught again."
But excise police ICE enforcement - saturating college towns with alcohol violation patrols - is designed to change that mindset.
And after two years, there are some positive signs. At last year's Little 500 in Bloomington, the number of students treated at hospitals for alcohol-related problems fell by more than half.
And the number of school-aged people involved in alcohol-related accidents in counties with excise enforcement programs fell anywhere from 35 to 80%.
"We don't want it to be a secret that the excise police are out in these communities doing this enforcement," says Thickstun. "We want people to know about it because we want to change behavior."
At a grocery store near the Bloomington bypass, police find two 19-year-olds with phony IDs. The officer has to pry the real age out of one of them.
We asked the student if he's used phony IDs before.
"Why would I answer that question," he said, as he poured out an entire case of beer, can by can.