By Cat Righter
Nowadays Rob Edler is the kind of person that gets invited to a lot of parties. That’s because, since January of last year, he has served as the liquor inspector for Kent County and when the police run into an incident of underage drinking they invite him to come investigate.
Edler said that Chestertown residents are not fond of off-campus parties that involve a lot of “noise, litter, and people peeing in their bushes.” If Edler is free when police are called to investigate such a party he will go along with them. Otherwise, when police suspect underage drinking or other liquor law violations, Edler is called in to check identification of the party guests.
As the liquor inspector one of Edler’s duties is to issue citations for liquor law violations. One of the most common in a college town is possession of alcohol underage. A first offence will generally have less severe consequences. Subsequent ones can lead to citations for the person drinking underage as well the host if the person was caught at a party, said Edler.
His other duties include making sure all businesses that provide alcohol and tobacco are licensed properly and that they sell and serve those products in a way that complies with the law. He is also a certified instructor who trains businesses in the proper sale of alcohol.
The job is not, as some believe, traveling around and “inspecting” liquor by drinking for free. According to Edler, it involves “lots of bureaucracy and licensing government permits. I don’t really enjoy that part of the job, to be honest.”
“I’d rather have a business call me up and ask me a question than have to issue a citation. My job is to keep people informed,” he said.
Before his recent appointment as Liquor Inspector, Edler was the chief of police in Chestertown for 25 years. He says that between the two positions, “I’ve written enough citations to last a lifetime, but I’ll do it if I have to.”
As the chief of police, Edler said, “We always heard the same things.” Chestertown residents would accuse the police of never stepping in to stop disruptive parties, while college students would accuse the police of unfairly targeting them.
According to Edler, neither of these is the case. “We never pick on anybody,” he said. “We can’t not respond to a noise complaint.” He does caution those houses that have proven themselves to be sources of trouble over and over. “We’re going to keep and eye on [that house]. Expect to be watched.”
Though responding to these kind of complaints is often thankless work, it can occasionally be rewarding. One time, he responded to a party complaint where there were younger people, around 15 and 16. “The parents were actually thankful that I busted the party,” he said.
The best advice he can give to Washington College students is to “use common sense. We were all the same. Couldn’t wait to drink.” He reminds students that once they come of age, “drinking is not as big a deal as people make it out to be. I’m not the preachy kind, trying to tell you that [drinking underage] is bad for your brain and your liver. I think people already know that… and if you’re at an off-campus party, be aware of your surroundings.”