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Boston police warn of drugged drinks

Police are encouraging victims to call 911 or stop by any district station to file a report.

Gabby Jones/The New York Times

Boston police are urging people to report any suspected incidents of spiked drinks at local bars after “numerous posts” popped up on social media from individuals saying they were victims of drink spiking.

In a community alert issued Monday, Boston police encouraged victims to call 911 or stop by any Boston Police District Station to file a report.

The department reminded the public that scentless, colorless, and tasteless drugs such as GHB, Ketamine, and Rohypnol, also known as a roofie, can be easily slipped into the drinks of unsuspecting victims.

Common symptoms of these drugs include disorientation, confusion, temporary paralysis or unconsciousness, and a range of other issues, which can leave the potential victim vulnerable to the intentions of the suspect, according to police.

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Last week, Barnstable police issued a similar community alert, after receiving several reports of people believing that they had been drugged at local bars around the Cape.

In addition to suggesting that people utilize the “buddy system” when out in public to avoid getting separated from friends, Boston police recommended that people take the following precautions to ensure personal safety:

  • Be sure that your drink is being served directly by the bartender or your server. Don’t allow people you don’t know or trust to order drinks and deliver them to you.
  • Watch your drink at all times. Never leave your drink unattended.
  • Take your drink with you to the restroom if need be.
  • Keep your hand covered over your drink when you’re not looking at it. Many creative inventions exist that can help you cover your drink.
  • Test your drink with test strips or nail polish that light up a certain color if they detect drugs.
  • Get help immediately if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseated, light-headed or strange in any way.

Police said people should be mindful of any unusual behavior by those they are hanging out with – strangers or not – as well as people who try to lure individuals away from their friends.

People should also look out for others and contact the police if they notice anyone that appears to be in distress, wandering along at night, or dressed unsuitably for the weather, police said.

The department also resurfaced a 2021 advisory from Boston’s Licensing Board released the following advisory related to safety concerns and best practices in nightclubs and other licensed establishments:

  • It is each licensee’s responsibility to run a business that is safe for its patrons and free of illegal activity.
  • Licensees should establish security plans, regardless of whether one has been formally required by the board. Security plans should include an overview of the operations/security at the licensed premise, the locations of security cameras, training policies and procedures, and policies and procedures regarding inspection of identification, dispersal of patrons, and addressing reports of illegal activity.
  • Licensees must ensure that their employees call 911 to report criminal activity or serious medical emergencies such as drug overdoses or severe impairment.
  • Licensees should call 911 or otherwise notify police to report suspicious or predatory behavior and when a problem patron or severely intoxicated patron is ejected.
  • Licensees must make clear to all managers, employees, and private contractors that they are expected to cooperate with police officers, officials, and investigators following a reported incident.
  • It is recommended that licensees install functioning and properly maintained surveillance cameras mounted to show patrons entering and exiting licensed premises, entering and exiting restrooms, as well as positioned to provide coverage for blind spots, entrances, exits, service areas, hallways, stairways, and dance floors. Licensees should maintain video recordings for at least 30 days, and should immediately provide recordings to the Boston Police Department and the board upon request.
  • Licensees must ensure that all employees are adequately trained for their positions. This training should include security training for security personnel that includes techniques to de-escalate potential violent encounters and difficult situations and alcohol awareness training for bar staff. All staff should be trained in recognizing and preventing sexual assault.
  • Licensees should post information in conspicuous places reminding patrons of how to protect themselves and encouraging patrons to seek drug testing if they believe they have been a victim of a drugging incident. This information should include, among other things, a reminder to patrons not to accept drinks from strangers and not to leave any drink uncovered or unattended. Additional information to post can include awareness of non-medical indicators of a drugged drink, such as a change in the color of a drink, sinking ice cubes, excessive bubbles, or foggy appearance of a drink.

“Failure to adhere to any of the above, previously issued orders or advisories currently in effect, the Rules and Regulations of the Board and the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, and the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts regarding the sale and service of alcohol will result in disciplinary action from the Board including, but not limited to, the immediate suspension of any license issued by the Board,” the advisory reads.

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