The Folsom Police Department has been making the most of the grant money they received, along with twelve other cities in California, to make people finally understand that they should not, in any circumstance, buy or sell alcohol to anyone underage. Those caught doing so have been faced with a $1000.00 fine and 24 hours of community service. They hope that people hearing about the arrests will finally realize that committing this crime is not worth it, but it seems to be an uphill climb as six recent arrests show.
It is somewhat ironic that people are willing to put themselves at personal risk by committing a crime when they do not stand to gain anything by it. The motivation for going out of your way to provide liquor for someone underage seems to be a desire to be “cool” to the kids, and perhaps remembering when someone helped them get “party supplies” when they were young. The thought of potential drunk driving deaths, alcohol poisoning, and drunken sexual assaults don’t seem to cross their minds as they hand over the booze to a person they know to be a teenager.
The police use two main methods to catch people willing to cross that line. Decoy Shoulder Tap Operations target people willing to buy liquor for kids, and Decoy Alcohol Purchase Operations target those in a position and willing to sell them alcoholic beverages. They are also conducting “Party Patrols” to seek out gatherings where alcohol is being consumed by kids who already have it.
On Tuesday, June 3, they conducted a Shoulder Tap operation in Folsom. A minor under the control and supervision of an officer will stand outside a liquor store or convenience store and ask an approaching customer for help. They explain that they are underage and cannot buy alcohol. If the person agrees to help, they give them money for the purchase. Once the adult comes out and provides the liquor, the minor decoy leaves, and police take over, arresting the person who gave the kid the alcohol. 24-year-old Harrison Anderson and 53-year-old James Ligon were both caught in the sting, and arrested by Folsom PD.
A week later, Tuesday June 10, they ran a Decoy Alcohol Purchase operation. Their minor decoy, who does not use a false identification or claim to be of age, was successful in buying liquor at four local businesses. Raley’s, the large supermarket chain has, in some locations, combination gas station, car wash, and convenience stores known as “Aisle 1”. 25-year-old Taylor Dane Pontes, working at the location on Blue Ravine and Natoma, was caught in the sting when he sold alcohol to the decoy without checking ID. Nick Allen McBride, a 25-year-old El Dorado Hills resident working at Pete’s Brewhouse on Folsom-Auburn Road on the northwest part of town, was caught serving the underage decoy.
The operation at the 76 gas station on East Bidwell near the Target store. 57-year-old Daisy LeFever Narcis of Folsom was caught selling to the minor out of their market, while further up East Bidwell, Neeraj Amit Kumar, 37 of Elk Grove did it at the Valero Gas. The police did not specify how many businesses were successful in “carding” the decoy and refusing to sell.
Each of these four arrested also are subject to the $1000 fine and 24 hours community service as a penalty for the arrest. They also no doubt face disciplinary action from their employers for putting the businesses’ liquor license at risk. Those employers will no doubt want to check into the free training offered by the Folsom Police and state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency on how to avoid selling alcohol to minors. “Our goal is to have zero violations when a minor tries to buy alcohol,” said Sgt. Eric Heichlinger from the Folsom Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit. They will consider the program a success when they can no longer find anyone to arrest. Until then, the process continues with the added support of Sacramento County Department of Behavioral Health Services, the Office of Education, the Folsom Cordova School District, and People Reaching Out, a private organization dedicated to positive youth development.