Staff Editorial: An unacceptable delay

The District’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration is an organization charged with, among other things, investigating violations and enforcing sanctions related to the sale and consumption of alcohol in D.C. In the past, the agency has been effective in achieving those goals. But this is not the case when it comes to the agency’s investigation into Adams Mill, the bar at which Laura Treanor drank the night she died of alcohol poisoning 14 months ago. ABRA has consistently failed to promptly initiate an investigation, release the reports of that investigation, or take subsequent actions in a timely manner.

The original sin of ABRA’s dealing with this particular incident occurred last year, when an investigation did not begin until nearly eight months after Treanor’s death. Though an unnamed ABRA official said in September that the group couldn’t initiate an investigation without an incident report from the Metropolitan Police Department, ABRA spokesman Cynthia Simms said in October, “I can’t explain to you why the investigation didn’t occur until now, or why the report was just received from MPD.” Either way, we find the eight-month delay troubling.

It would have seemed that an expedient investigation process would follow the initial delay, but that is also not the case. Although the report was supposed to be discussed at one of ABRA’s weekly board meetings in February, the organization has continued to face delays in reviewing the report.

We find the lack of progress on this investigation inexcusable, and it means there is more potential for dangerous situations to occur. If the release of the report is prolonged further, any continuing dangerous practices or valuable information gleaned during the investigation will continue to go unaddressed.

ABRA is an agency charged with the difficult but important task of ensuring safe practices when dealing with alcohol consumption. It is unacceptable that a task of such importance has been plagued by a slow investigation process. In the future, we hope that ABRA will be more effective in reviewing, releasing and enforcing the results of this report.

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