FOLSOM – For some young people out for a party on the weekend and are too young to buy alcohol, the quest for someone “cool” to buy them something becomes a Saturday game. While some have friends old enough to supply them, others rely on helpful strangers, or even businesses not too careful about checking IDs. The results, however, are often tragic when they get behind the wheel with their friends, or engage in drinking games or binge drinking that can cause permanent damage, or impaired judgement leading to physical and sexual assaults.
The Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant (SPF_SIG) is a state funded grant with the goal of reducing excessive drinking by 12 to 25-year-olds. Folsom, along with eleven other communities, was selected to be part of the project, and the local police are working with Sacramento County agencies and the school district to engage in various strategies to fight underage drinking. One primary goal is to cut off the supply of liquor to kids, and well publicized decoy operations go a long way towards accomplishing that.
Minor decoy stings are conducted in two basic ways – in one, called a “Shoulder Tap Operation”, a minor will approach a stranger entering a store and ask if they will buy some liquor for them, handing them money and explaining that they are underage and can’t buy it themselves. If the person agrees to do it, and actually purchases the alcohol and gives it to the decoy, they are then arrested. The minor is a specially recruited young person who is working with the police, and is always long gone by the time the arrest is made, so they are not put in harm’s way.
The other minor decoy method has the young person enter a store or restaurant and attempt to buy alcohol. The assigned decoy does not present a fake ID, and if asked, will be truthful about their age. If liquor is provided, the seller has no excuse about being fooled by the buyer about their age – it is clear that they simply did not check ID and sold the booze to someone clearly under 21.
This last Saturday, as High Schoolers began their two week holiday break, Folsom Police detectives conducted this second style operation at a number of local stores and restaurants, and four people at four locations were caught.
24-year-old Andrew Duffield of Folsom and 21-year-old Harpret Singh, who were caught at the Churchill Arms Pub and the Lexington Food Market, may have felt a connection to the customer who was not much younger than they are; enough to ignore the rules the business owners and managers have no doubt tried keep enforced. 58-year-old Joseph Spera of Fair Oaks and 29-year-old Micah Carlson, who were caught selling at Walmart and the Chevron outside of Walmart, certainly should have known better.
Each of the arrested men face a $1000 fine and 24 hours of community service. They should also serve as a well-publicized warning to others who may think they are just giving a kid a break by selling them liquor on a Saturday night. And the owners of the businesses are no doubt aware that they face license revocations and closure for every additional infraction. Folsom and other communities will continue their efforts under this grant for the next three years at least. They will also conduct “Party Patrols” and seek out large gatherings where minors may be consuming alcohol, in homes, parks, or even parking lots. Residents are encouraged to call police if they witness any such incidents.