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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 5, 2009
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has completed the use of force report related to the incident at the Fort Worth Rainbow Lounge occurring on June 28, 2009. The 74-page report takes into account statements by eyewitnesses, expert witnesses, TABC employees, and Fort Worth police officers.
The TABC internal affairs investigation report included two allegations which were both unfounded:
1. Agents Chris Aller and Jason Chapman were accused of participating in a bar check operation with Fort Worth police officers on June 28, 2009, which targeted the Rainbow Lounge specifically because of the bar's gay and lesbian customer base. The allegation that the Rainbow Lounge was targeted for being a gay bar was unfounded.
2. Agents Aller and Chapman were accused of using force beyond what was necessary and reasonable during their contact with Jose Macias, George Armstrong and Chad Gibson when they were placed under arrest at the Rainbow Lounge. The allegation of excessive force was unfounded.
Administrator Alan Steen said, "Although the evidence did not show that our agents targeted the bar or used excessive force, it does not take away from the fact that the agents violated several policies that night. I want to take another opportunity to say that this is not how we treat people, and we have been looking at this from every angle to find ways to make sure it does not happen again."
In August, TABC announced that Agent Chris Aller, Agent Trainee Jason Chapman and Sgt. Terry Parsons were terminated for various policy and procedural violations found in the initial Rainbow Lounge investigation report. Aller and Parsons filed appeals, but Administrator Alan Steen upheld the terminations.
Administrator Alan Steen said, "The obvious disconnect between TABC and the gay community in North Texas was a wake-up call to our agency that we need to make a more conscious effort to reach out to all of the diverse groups that we serve and to promote open lines of communication."
With that goal in mind, TABC's five regional Educational Liaisons are being re-named Community Liaisons, and will be tasked with reaching out to diverse community groups including GLBT organizations as well as associations representing racial, ethnic and religious minorities.
Steen added, "This is an obvious extension of the duties of the Educational Liaisons," who already work with industry members, parents, students and other community groups to increase understanding of alcoholic beverage laws, responsible service and consumption of alcohol, and the agency's role in keeping Texans safe.
Additionally, Steen has appointed TABC's Director of Communications and Governmental Relations as the agency's liaison to the GLBT community in an effort to improve communication around the state. Steen said, "Carolyn Beck played a key role in representing our agency to the public during some tough times this summer and immediately began making contacts in the North Texas GLBT community. As soon as the recommendation was made that we appoint a GLBT statewide liaison, she volunteered, and I think she will do a great job."
Carolyn Beck commented, "It's important that the GLBT community have a direct point of contact at TABC if they have recommendations for our agency, or concerns that they don't feel comfortable addressing with their local TABC office. I'm here to work with the community to answer questions about TABC policies or about alcoholic beverage laws, and to continue to assist the agency in moving forward in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge incident."
TABC management has initiated numerous operational changes in an effort to better enhance field operations and the public trust.
Additionally, the following operational improvements were announced on August 28, 2009:
Administrator Steen said, "Chief Joel Moreno has done a good job making rapid and positive change to field operations. Over the past three years, he has made significant improvements, and these additional changes will only add to the quality of service we provide to the State of Texas."
Contact: Carolyn Beck, Director of Communications and Governmental Relations, 512-206-3347