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Cuts to ALE undermine efforts to protect, prevent abuses, leaders say

Posted August 13, 2013

The state's Alcohol Law Enforcement arm is making some hard choices after state lawmakers cut the agency's budget by 20 percent.

The loss of $1.75 million from a total ALE budget of about $10 million will almost certainly mean reduced inspections of those who sell tobacco, lottery tickets and booze and fewer investigations of suspected gambling operations and other crimes. ALE's 83 field agents have worked with local, state and federal law enforcement to provide a variety of support functions. They recently helped Durham police round up probation violators.

But Jim Gardner, chairman of the Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, says the budget cuts mean fewer agents on the street and stretch those who remain too thin.

"They just simply don't have the manpower to handle what's been put on them," he said.

ALE may have to cut back on enforcement duties ALE may have to cut back on enforcement duties

Gardner estimated the cut would cost 20 agent positions of a total 110.

"I think the No. 1 responsibility of government is to protect the people. And the one place you do not want to cut, as far as I'm concerned, pertains to law and order," he said.

Beyond law enforcement, the agency's ability to educate the public about the dangers of controlled substances and run programs such as those that prevent underage drinking will also suffer, Gardner said.

A legislative source told WRAL that lawmakers would like to see ALE focus more on alcohol enforcement and less on other investigative activities.

ALE director Greg Baker issued this statement: 

"ALE is most often the only state agency available to assist sheriffs and local law enforcement in the rural counties of North Carolina. The mandated reductions will severely limit ALE in carrying out its mission. The Department is currently assessing the damage caused by the reductions and will endeavor to identify solutions to ensure that ALE is able to continue to execute its mission to the best of its ability."

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  • WRALSUCKS Aug 14, 2013

    " Unfortunately, the "merge" of agencies has not washed out the duplicate director level positions as previously promised."

    Again... "who knew"?

    (.. it's virtually impossible to fire public sector employees)

  • WRALSUCKS Aug 14, 2013

    "The GOP wants to get rid of the lottery in NC."

    Hey, I remember you Demos promising the lottery would end the budget crises for schools. Of course that turned out not to be true.

    Who knew?

  • WRALSUCKS Aug 14, 2013

    Gee, another armed SWAT type agency. Just what we need (NOT)

  • oftenbad2 Aug 14, 2013

    "When you find yourself in the next hurricane relief shelter, crack house, liquor house, alcohol traffic fatality, drunk-filled bar, etc., look at the badge of the plain clothes officer."

    Well I don't visit crack or liquor houses, never hope to be involved on the other side of a alcohol traffic fatality (I use DD's) and bars are bars and I never see cops in there. What's an ALE agent doing at a alcohol traffic fatality? MV fatalities on the roadways are normally the NCSHP jurisdiction aren't they?

  • oftenbad2 Aug 14, 2013

    Their mission? They haven't been doing their mission in years! ALE is useless. Each county has their own Alcohol Beverage Commission. Why do they need such a big budget anyways for 83 officers? Oh I know, to let them continue to cruise around in their brand new Tahoes and Chargers driving from Raleigh to the mountains everyday!! Get rid of them. And those roundups...they go knocking on the door shouting State Police...who are you Troopers? SBI? I think not. Go work a concert or stop and rob for underage sales of alcohol!!

  • dbirds4653 Aug 14, 2013

    Well, where to start?
    "Nicer" guns are bought with criminal's money, not taxpayer's. Criminal's money doesn't come out of thin air, it gets seized by working LEO's and disseminated through proper proceedings. Retiree's buy service pistols for $1. Agents that wanted to, bought the used and repaired “nicer” pistol, a weapon that proved to be unreliable, for more than $750. Most didn't!! ALE hasn't done underage alcohol compliance checks in several years. One of the primary reasons they were ever done was for a PhD thesis.
    There’s a reason this relatively small group has historically been saddled with extra tasks. Proven success in any environment! When you find yourself in the next hurricane relief shelter, crack house, liquor house, alcohol traffic fatality, drunk-filled bar, etc., look at the badge of the plain clothes officer. It will likely read Alcohol Law Enforcement Agent. Not every Agent is perfect, but there is no doubt they every reason to hold their heads high!

  • SnupeLyin Aug 14, 2013

    Here is my far-fetched theory:

    The GOP wants to get rid of the lottery in NC. They didn't like the idea of it, they don't like it now, and they don't want it in the future.

    If you cut the budget to the agency that enforces the laws around the lottery then they have to spend less time on it and reduce manpower. So then the corrupt lottery player, workers, etc. can get away with more.

    Then, in a couple of years there will be reason to shut down the lottery due to its corrupt nature and the states inability to fund enforcement of it.

    Its a beautiful plan I tell you...

    (O_o)

  • WakeForestLiving Aug 14, 2013

    They need to get rid of the State Capital Police as well. They are as useless as a football bat.

  • Qwerty27807 Aug 14, 2013

    @Singlemalt:"The nicer guns you are referencing was when the ALE Director at that time was very well versed in firearms and he sought to equip his agents with the best equipment possible, nothing ever wrong with that."

    In that case, we should start buying ALL the cops Porsches for traffic patrol, since that is how a $1400 Kimber compares to a $500 Glock. Those guns were purchased directly with an eye towards the $1 buy-out given to agents, and were an affront to taxpayers.

  • Singlemalt Aug 14, 2013

    BPractical: I certainly agree the management in this agency is duplicated. Unfortunately, the "merge" of agencies has not washed out the duplicate director level positions as previously promised.

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