Six local businesses sold alcohol to a minor during a decoy operation conducted by the San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) on Oct. 18, according to a SLOPD press release.
The decoy operation involved a 19-year old woman who attempted to buy alcohol at 21 local businesses in San Luis Obispo. Six of the businesses that sold alcohol to the minor were Edna Valley Shell, Laurel Lane Liquors, 7-Eleven’s on Marsh St. and California Blvd., Scolaris and University Gas, accoding to the SLOPD news release.
The decoy presented clerks with a valid license which clearly stated that she was underage and also was required to answer truthfully when asked for her age. Some of the businesses sold her the alcohol anyway.
Clerks at the six Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) licensed businesses could face a fine of $250 and up to 32 hours of community service for the first violation. Also, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control may suspend the business’s liquor license, fine the business or revoke the license entirely if multiple offenses have occurred.
Sergeant Keith Storton of SLOPD said these operations are done often, but this one occurred after SLOPD applied for a grant to run the operation at no cost to the city.
As explained in the news release, the grant was awarded to SLOPD from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). This minor decoy operation is one of several enforcement and educational opportunities made possible through the grant to take place throughout the year.
Storton said this type of decoy operation is not the only type SLOPD runs in the city.
They run “shoulder tap” and “trap door” operations as well. The shoulder tap operation is when SLOPD places a minor outside of a liquor store to ask costumers to purchase alcohol for them. If the customer complies, then they are cited. The trap door operation consists of officers going to bars and standing outside with the bouncers to check identification.
However, many students feel like SLOPD is wasting its time.
“I don’t think it’s going to stop anything,” earth sciences junior Kaylee Beckman said.
But with the party atmosphere at Cal Poly, Storton said the police department has a responsibility to crack down on businesses that are acting against the law.
“Because there is a wide alcohol use by underage kids, there is unfortunately also a relationship between underage drinking and DUI’s,” Storton said.
Also, as stated in the press release, there is a relationship between underage drinking and numerous crimes such as assault, rape and vandalism.
By decreasing the ways minors can get their hands on alcohol, SLOPD hopes to also decrease the number of underage alcohol-related incidents.
Beckman she said she does not think the decoy operations will make alcohol that much harder to get ahold of.
“Anyone like me that would want some booze will do anything possible to get some,” she said.
Leah Loewenthal, an animal science junior, agreed.
“They can continue doing (the decoys) but we’re in a college town; we’re going to find a way to do it,” she said. “And the real solution would be to change the drinking age to 18.”
But for Storton, decreasing the non-compliance of businesses is a step in the right direction — a direction which could lead to less minors possessing and consuming alcohol.
“It is one step of many in order to reduce the amounts of DUI’s and incidents involving minors with alcohol,” Storton said.