SAN BERNARDINO – Police cited one clerk for selling alcohol to minors last weekend in an ongoing “Minor Decoy” program seeking to reduce the sale to those who are underage.
Lt. Ron Maass said on Monday, “We conduct our programs throughout the city to ensure compliance of the laws by the various outlets, which also helps to ensure the safety and well-being of our youth and the citizens overall.”
Dedar Goraya, a clerk at the Amigo Market at 1602 West Highland Ave., was cited for selling to an undercover minor during the sweep.
Maass said the program included attempts to purchase alcohol from 10 retail licensees within the city. “We conduct these programs at retailers, liquor stores, mini-markets, supermarkets, as well as restaurants and bars.
“We use civilians, typically police explorers,” said Maass, “under the age of 21, as the Minor Decoys. We do not use subjects that look substantially older than their actual age.”
Maass also said they do not use fake identifications. “Our department, in conjunction with ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control), are careful to preclude any possible entrapment issues.”
Those who sell to minors face a minimum fine of $250 along with the possibility of 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation, said Maass. The ABC might also take administrative action against the license of the business, he said.
Maass said that statistics have shown that under-age drinkers have a higher rate of drunken driving fatalities than the general adult population.
Citing a 1994 state supreme court ruling that use of underage decoys is a valid tool of law enforcement, Minor Decoy operations have been conducted by local law enforcement agencies throughout California since the 1980s – prior to the court’s ruling.
When the program first started, said Maass, the violation rate of retail establishments selling to minors was as high as 40 to 50 percent. Since the Minor Decoy operations have started, that rate has dropped to as low as 10 percent, or lower, in some cities.
“As far as the scope of the problem,” said Maass, “direct purchases of alcohol from ABC outlets – both on-sales and off-sales – is one of the primary means by which minors obtain alcohol for consumption.”
The others, he said, include theft and that provided by an adult.
CrimeVoice: Decoys help authorities guard alcohol sales