BPD doing its part to enforce tobacco laws

The Borger Police Department is doing its part to enforce tobacco laws within the city limits.During its regular meeting last week, the Borger City Council approved a resolution authorizing submission of the Tobacco Enforcement Contract Application for Local Law Enforcement Agencies.This application will be sent to the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University – San Marcos on behalf of the Department of State Health Services, Mental Health Substance Abuse Division.Lt. Anthony Griffin of the BPD attended the council meeting Tuesday. He said the department has participated in obtaining tobacco enforcement funds in the past. This funding has been utilized to conduct tobacco stings in regards to permitted retailers selling tobacco to underage minors.The funding will assist in reducing the illegal sale of tobacco to underage minors within the city limits of Borger through covert tobacco stings at permitted retailers. The “stings” consist of utilizing voluntary minors for a controlled buy of tobacco at permitted retailers to determine compliance with Texas law in regards to the sale of tobacco to minors.Any financial impact would be in the form of officer salary and “buy money” utilized during the controlled stings. All of this should be reimbursed by the Tobacco Enforcement Funding.Lt. Griffin said the program has changed somewhat since it first started. The funds used to come straight from the Texas Comptroller’s Office beforehand. However, the Texas School Safety Center has taken it over.He said if the application from BPD is approved, the department would enter into a contract with the Texas School Safety Center. The contract is signed and sent back. During the funding period, which lasts from September 2012 to August 2013, the department will do controlled buys and stings. For each one, the city will be reimbursed $75.Lt. Griffin said in the past, this has been a grant. However, the program is moving away from the grant process and going more towards a reimbursement-type process.“We will go out and do a controlled buy or sting, fill out a form that we conducted one, and then they reimburse us for each one that we do,” he said.For each sting that is conducted, whether a sale is made or not, the city will receive that reimbursement. He said at least 32 stings will need to be conducted to meet the contracted obligations. However, he said he will have to see the contract for sure before he can give a cap number.Lt. Griffin said the City of Borger has not been accepted into the program as of yet, but he feels good about its chances for acceptance. He said the city can make the decision as to how to use the reimbursed funds.Edwards said if the city finds out prior to the budget process that it has received the money, a line item revenue account could be set up specifically to hold that money.Lt. Griffin said there may be some upfront costs to the city, but it shouldn’t be much. He said this money would most likely be in the form of overtime and funds for the buys and stings.He said he likes the way the program is set up now, because working with the State of Texas caused him to have to jump through many hoops. With the way it is set up now, the City of Borger will be reimbursed for every sting it makes. He said the City of Borger should know by the end of the month whether it has been accepted or not.