No Citations Issued During "Shoulder Tap" Operation
By Lookout Staff
February 23, 2023 -- A police sting operation this month to nab adults who buy alcohol for minors resulted in no citations, according to the Police Department.
A total of 47 adult patrons were approached during the underage Decoy Shoulder Tap operation staged on February 10 outside four Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) licensed retail establishments within the city.
"Underage Decoy Shoulder Tap operations are focused on adults who knowingly furnish alcoholic beverages to minors," police officials said.
"The goal is to reduce substance abuse and enhance community welfare by limiting underage access to alcoholic beverages."
An operation last August cited one of the 46 adults approached by the decoy, resulting in a misdemeanor citation for furnishing a minor under the age of 21 with alcohol, police officials said.
To prepare for the operation, "officers collect and review complaints and information provided by citizens, parents, school officials, patrol/campus police officers, community groups, and special event organizers who cater to high school age students," according to ABC's website.
"Selection of the minor decoy is critical," ABC said.
"Desirable qualifications include being: under 20 years of age (and appearing that age); truthful; willing to work undercover, wear a radio transmitter and have their conversations recorded."
Minor decoys must also be "comfortable making a face-to-face identification of the suspect after the violation" and be willing to testify in court, the website said.
The California Supreme Court paved the way for Shoulder Tap operations when it ruled in 1994 that minor decoys could be used by law enforcement to check whether stores were selling alcohol to minors.
At the time, the violation rate was nearly 50 percent, according to ABC officials.
"In some cities, almost one out of every two stores failed to check a minor’s age and sold them alcohol," ABC officials said.
By 1997, the violation rate had "dramatically decreased" in cities that used the program on a regular basis.
"Minors then turned to the 'shoulder tap' method of getting alcohol by standing outside of a liquor store, market or gas station and asking adults to buy them alcohol," according to ABC's website.
The operations are part of ABC's Minor Decoy/Shoulder Tap Grant Project funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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