NLLEA Conference - 2017

31st Annual NLLEA Conference

Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis & More: Meeting the Evolving Expectations of Regulation and Enforcement 

The NLLEA, in partnership with the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE) Commission, hosted the 2017 conference, Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis and More: Meeting the Evolving Expectations of Regulation and Enforcement, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from Monday, August 21 – Wednesday, August 23. There were 120 alcohol law enforcement professionals in attendance, traveling from across the United States and Canada.

The NLLEA Conference opening ceremonies began Monday afternoon, August 21, with the Presentation of the Colors by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol Honor Guard. NLLEA President, James A. Jones, Jr., made opening remarks and then introduced Keith Burt, Director of the Oklahoma ABLE Commission, who welcomed everyone to Oklahoma City.  Director Burt then introduced Oklahoma State Senator Stephanie Bice, followed by Commissioner Michael Thompson from the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.

The opening remarks were followed by the opening session on human trafficking and licensed establishments.  This topic is a first introduction to the NLLEA conference on the serious issue of human trafficking and the connection with licensed establishments.  An outstanding panel comprised of a researcher, a survivor and advocate, and a law enforcement expert on the topic provided the audience with an overview of the issue, and strategies to establish a multidisciplinary, victim-centered approach for enforcement. This session was extremely well received by the conference attendees and there will be more focus on this topic by NLLEA for future trainings and conferences.

NLLEA members then attended the President’s Reception, giving professionals in the field an opportunity to share best practices with one another in an informal setting.


Tuesday morning sessions ranged from discussing the illegal sale of alcohol through online sources and stills to examples of successful non-traditional partnerships. With presenters ranging from public health liaisons and community prevention advocates to representatives from the Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Park Service, the audience members walked away with a variety of ideas for strengthening and broadening the reach of alcohol law enforcement efforts.

After a lunch highlighted by Oklahoma BBQ, attendees received an update on the most recent findings in the STOP Act Report to Congress from Robert Vincent with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Wednesday morning started off with two very engaging sessions involving the creation of a live still with discussion of the critical elements of making a case on illegal manufacturing by Oklahoma ABLE Special Agent in Charge Joe Daniels, and a lively discussion of gambling devices in Pennsylvania led by Corporal Ricky Goodling, Enforcement Supervisor Todd Merlina and Lieutenant (and NLLEA President) James Jones.  The sessions ended with a comprehensive discussion of the perspective from front line staff and management on the impacts of marijuana regulation, led by Chief (and incoming NLLEA President) Justin Nordhorn and Lieutenant Jeremy Wissing with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.


The Annual Business Meeting was held on Tuesday afternoon, with the membership voting to approve all business conducted by the NLLEA Executive Board during the past year.  The members were updated on the cooperative agreement with NHTSA and the new initiative to conduct training and technical assistance on NLLEA’s data collection tool; future association initiatives; and the fiscal standing of the association.

Three great candidates ran for the Sergeant at Arms position for the NLLEA Executive Board, and the membership elected Chief of Investigations Donia Amick with the Colorado Liquor and Tobacco Division to the position of NLLEA Sergeant at Arms.


The conference ended Wednesday with the NLLEA Awards Luncheon. The luncheon began with a tribute to fallen officers and was followed by a luncheon and presentation of the annual NLLEA awards. Award recipients included: Wichita Mountains Prevention Network receiving the John W. Britt Community Service Award; DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulations Administration’s Double Check 101 Program receiving the Innovative Alcohol Law Enforcement Program of the Year; Agent Andrew Bouza of the Ohio Investigative Unit receiving the Alcohol Law Enforcement Agent of the Year Award; and the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Bureau of Law Enforcement receiving the Alcohol Law Enforcement Agency of the Year Award. The NLLEA also presented a Service Award to the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission for co-hosting the conference and a Meritorious Service Award to James A. Jones, Jr. for serving as the NLLEA Board President for 2016-2017. (Visit the NLLEA Awards page for more details.) Past President Wes Kuhl swore in the 2017-2018 NLLEA Board of Directors:  President Justin Nordhorn, Vice President Robert Kracyla, Secretary/Treasurer Greg Croft, and Sergeant at Arms Donia Amick.

The NLLEA would like to thank this year’s presenters for sharing their expertise with our members and for helping meet the evolving expectations of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis regulation and enforcement. Stay tuned for information about the 32st Annual Conference to be held in October 2018 in Washington!