For about a year there has been an increased emphasis on furthering the effort of a healthier community through Sunnyside United, a coalition made up of leaders throughout the city.
The leadership that has banded together comes from various segments in the community, including the Sunnyside Police Department.
Sunnyside United, said Deputy Police Chief Phil Schenck, is focused on several health and social issues, one of which is alcohol use by youth living in the community.
“Drug and alcohol use affects student learning,” said Schenck.
Seeing this as an area where police efforts could be used to enforce the legal drinking limit, Schenck developed a plan that recently resulted in finding four Sunnyside businesses that were not in compliance with the state’s liquor laws.
“Generally, liquor compliance checks take place once a year,” Schenck said.
He said the police department, with its relationship with the Washington State Liquor Control Board, was able to step up the efforts recently.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board supplied an employee for the recent compliance checks and two Sunnyside police officers accompanied the employee and a “young undercover individual.”
Schenck said, “You would be surprised how many businesses have staff who are not following the law.”
Compliance checks were conducted on 27 Sunnyside businesses and 23 were found in compliance with liquor laws.
“That’s the good news,” said Schenck.
However, he noted, the businesses found in non-compliance were not the establishments that had been rumored to have been selling alcohol to minors.
Those businesses, according to Schenck, included M&N Grocery, located at 309 Yakima Valley Hwy.; 16th Street Market, located at 1121 S. 16th St.; TM Market, located at 417 Cemetery Rd.; and Park & Pak at 905 Lincoln Ave.
“We targeted the supply side…our expectation is that no business in Sunnyside ever sells alcohol to a minor…there’s no excuse,” Schenck said, stating the police department is dedicated to eliminating the use of alcohol among Sunnyside’s youth.
Therefore, additional compliance checks are planned.
“The other side of the issue is getting youth in the community to discontinue using alcohol,” said Schenck.
He said the effort is supported by Sunnyside United and his department has partnered with the coalition to meet the mutual mission of unlocking Sunnyside’s potential for a safer, healthier, prosperous, drug/alcohol free community for its youth.