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Boston to Booze Buyers: Beware!

By Waseem S. Daher

Buying a keg of beer? An upcoming regulation will require Boston’s breweries and liquor stores to immediately report your name and address to the Boston police.

The Boston Licensing Board, which regulates alcohol sellers, will formally announce the new rule in early October, according to Daniel Pokaski, the board’s chairman.

The police will use the new, real-time purchase records to identify “problem houses,” said William B. Evans, a Boston police captain, in remarks to The Boston Herald.

MIT fraternities who have been following the rules will not be affected, said Christopher P. Child ’06, the Interfraternity Council president, since the IFC already forbids its members to have kegs. “In cases where they’re breaking the rule,” he said, “it’d make it more likely that they’d get caught.”

The regulation will require that “any retail licensee making the sale of a keg must notify the Boston Police District Commander, at the point of sale, via e-mail, fax, or telephone,” according to a copy released by the board. “Notification shall include the name, address, and birth date of the purchaser.” The rule defines a keg as any container bigger than six gallons.

Liquor stores in Boston are already required to maintain books with the names and addresses of all keg purchasers, but the new rule is unusual in requiring sellers to report sales to the police.

The Cambridge License Commission has yet to consider a similar measure, according to Elizabeth Lint, the CLC’s executive director.

Rule follows yearlong crackdown

The reporting requirement is the most recent in a series of moves to beef up enforcement of alcohol and noise restrictions in Boston over the past 18 months.

The tightening is part of an effort to address neighborhood complaints about the consequences of drunkenness: property damage and noise, as well as the 2004 riots after Boston’s Super Bowl and World Series victories, said Daniel Trujillo, associate dean in charge of alcohol policy.

Does the new reporting requirement raise privacy concerns? No, says Pokaski, since individual stores are already required to keep records of their keg sales — records already available to the police.

Since the new reports will also be stored at the police department, they “could be deemed a public record” and made available to the public, Pokaski said. But “who else would want it?”