Mankato bars, law enforcement combat underage drinking

Downtown Mankato, Minnesota on a weekend night can be packed with college students, even in the dead of winter.

But here, the bars and local law enforcement insist they are working in tandem to keep underage drinkers out.

That’s where people like Ryan Tucker come in. After 16 years in the industry, Tucker, the general manager at Rounder’s Sports Bar & Grill, can spot a fake ID easily.

“The height and the weight and the eye color are huge,” Tucker said, examining a license. “The redness, two different colors, blue behind the picture…both are straight-up fake.”

Over the past year, Rounder’s has confiscated hundreds of fake ID’s and passports. Tucker said they send away about one in 10 visitors.

Terry Kelley of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division came to Mankato at the start of the second semester to highlight efforts to stop young bar-goers at the door, before they can buy a drink.

“Our message is clear,” Kelley said. “Underage people who have access to alcohol are risking life-changing consequences.”

Matt Durose of the Mankato Public Safety Department said the department strives to work with those closest to the problem.

“Any night of the week, you will find officers on foot patrol, getting perspective from the bouncers on what is going on in the downtown area,” he said.

According to the Department of Public Safety, in a five-year span, teenage drivers in Minnesota picked up nearly 8,000 DWI’s and were involved in 30 fatal crashes resulting in 32 deaths.

Terry Kelley insists that something has to be done.

“We don’t want to have to go to one more parent and say, ‘your kid is not coming home because of tragedy,’” Kelley said. “This is preventable.”