by Sarah Squires
In response to the recent alcohol-related death of a WSU student, Winona Police Chief Frank Pomeroy said he will pursue two citywide alcohol ordinances aimed at curbing binge drinking in Winona.
The first measure would mimic Mankato's response to drinking-related deaths, a measure passed in December banning all-you-can-drink bar specials. Pomeroy said that he would be in touch with city leaders to get a discussion going about whether a similar ban in Winona could help combat binge drinking.
An all-you-can-drink bar special ban was also adopted in Madison five years ago. But a UW-Madison-sponsored study suggested that alcohol-related crimes have continued to climb in Wisconsin's capital.
The second measure Pomeroy discussed would be similar to an ordinance recently adopted in Chaska, Minn. This ordinance, known as the "Social Host" law, makes adults criminally liable for gatherings of three or more minors drinking alcohol, whether they knew about the underaged drinking or "should have known." This could apply to parents, or simply party hosts who are adults.
Pomeroy said that the city and university already have programs in place that have helped curb the size of house parties and underaged drinking. These measures include checks in bars, an ordinance that holds landlords accountable for noisy party violations, and neighborhood watch groups. As a result, crime and tickets have gone down, "but we still deal with the binge drinking idea," said Pomeroy.
"I think we're very proactive here," he said. But he added that Winona is not immune to alcohol-related deaths and injuries, and that there were things the city could do to help discourage the binge-style drinking that causes such tragedies.
Pomeroy said that 63 people have been sent to detoxification facilities this year. One of those individuals, Keith Osander, died while in the back of a squad car on his way to such a facility in Rochester on December 8. The cause of his death has not been released but officials expect word from the Olmsted County coroner next week.