While the end of each season brings varied results on the playing surface, the Lightning are always champions off the ice.
On Tuesday evening, representatives from the Lightning, St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa Police Department, Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office, Yellow Cab of Tampa and Tampa Alcohol Coalition gathered to refine current initiatives, as well as to put into practice new ideas regarding alcohol awareness, safety and prevention.
“Our main focus is to keep the St. Pete Times Forum a safe place where families and their children can come enjoy hockey in a friendly atmosphere,” Lightning Vice President of Operations Mary Milne said. “All the participating organizations were great in helping us take a solution-oriented approach on how to effectively manage issues stemming from alcohol consumption.”
TEAM, Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management, serves as the flagship program of the St. Pete Times Forum and the Lightning, and seeks to implement a number of important objectives. Among the main goals discussed was the need to gain a better understanding of the organization’s policies, to examine if any of the procedures currently in place were in need of improvement and to brainstorm ideas and strategies in dealing with alcohol issues.
“From a law enforcement perspective, it’s very important to have these meetings,” Captain Paul Driscoll of the Tampa Police Department said. “We were very happy with a lot of the ideas that were discussed.”
The program is held each year for employees of the St. Pete Times Forum to educate the entire staff on a variety of issues including underage drinking, fake identifications cards, proper protocol in challenging situations, and smart alternatives in delivering individuals to their homes in a safe manner after consuming alcohol. In fact, the organization is already taking big strides in ensuring the safety of all members of the community, as one of the main topics discussed at the forum was the Alert Cab Program, which allows patrons a cab ride home, often for free.
The initiatives discussed at Tuesday’s meeting were as much about the general well-being of all individuals who attend events at the St. Pete Times Forum, as they were about compliance among different community organizations which help combat the problem in unison. The open forum also provided a vehicle for a proactive approach in encouraging all fans who come through the arena to enjoy themselves, but to practice responsible choices and to exercise good judgment as well.
“It’s extremely crucial to have such positive input into issues that affect the community,” Larry Morell of the Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office Save Program said. “The reward is knowing that at the end of the day, we’ve done our part to make our community safer.”