Search Archive Columns Special Reports The City Commerce Links About Us Contact

Santa Monica Police Use Minors as Decoys in Liquor Store Sting  

By Lookout Staff

May 13, 2011 -- Minors in Santa Monica should find it harder to buy liquor, thanks to a police “decoy” operation that sent supervised youth into liquor stores to make purchases or had them ask adults outside to buy them alcohol.

Two sales clerks and several adults who purchased alcohol for the minors have been cited, and two stores are under investigation, said Sgt. Richard Lewis of the Santa Monica Police Department.

Minors under the direct supervision of officers attempted to buy alcohol from 36 licensed outlets as part of the “Minor Decoy Operation,” said Lewis. Penalties for selling alcohol to a minor are a minimum fine of $250 and up to 32 hours of community service for a first violation.

In the “Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation,” supervised minors stood outside of liquor or convenience stores and, after making it clear that they were underaged, asked adult patrons to buy alcohol for them. Adults who agreed were arrested and cited. The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1000 fine and 24 hours of community service.

In 1994, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that use of underage decoys is a valid tool of law enforcement to ensure that licensees are complying with the law, police said.

People under the age of 21 are more likely to die in an accident caused by drunk driving than the general adult population, according to police data.

Since minor decoy operations were started in California in the 1980's, the violation rate of stores selling alcohol to minors has dropped from as high as 40 to 50 per cent down to 10 per cent and lower, police said.


Lookout Logo footer image Copyright 1999-2011 All Rights Reserved. EMAIL