TABC to bring undercover agents to downtown, UT community liquor stores

Kat Langlois has worked in the alcohol sales industry for 15 years, and she has managed All American Liquors downtown for four years. During that time, she has noticed some problems with the homeless.

“Probably the biggest thing for us this time of year is the homeless community and theft, but it’s grab and run. We are never physically threatened,” she said.

She was pleased to hear the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is offering a helping hand this upcoming weekend with their “Cops in Shops” initiative.

“Cops in Shops is a program the TABC has been doing for a number of years in which we have an undercover TABC agent located in an alcohol retail business,” said Chris Porter, spokesperson with TABC. 

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However, this time the operation was called on by Gov. Greg Abbott.

“Governor Abbott has asked several members of DPS to patrol areas of downtown Austin for the next couple of weeks in response to some incidents that took place downtown. He also requested the TABC do something similar,” said Porter.

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This week, the agency met with 60 liquor store owners, asking if they need their presence. So far, Porter says the response has been positive. 

“It could be someone who comes into a store and tries to perhaps commit shoplifting, someone who tries to commit a violent act. Underage alcohol consumption is also something we look at, and then people who are intoxicated at the scene of a TABC licensed business,” said Porter. 

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Langlois believes the TABC working with retailers is a step in the right direction when it comes to building relationships.

“I only really see them when they are doing stings or checks on us, which is fine. I get it it's part of the job. But if they would collaborate with us ahead of time that would be great,” she said. 

The Cops in Shops program specifically will be aimed at package and convenience stores. TABC agents will continue their usual enforcement at bars. The program will run from Jan. 16 -18 in Downtown Austin and the University of Texas area.