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No Takers in Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation

Vista CA— Deputies from the Sheriff’s Department’s Vista COPPS Unit and a minor decoy conducted a “Decoy Shoulder Tap” Operation at various locations in the City of Vista. The Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation targets adults who purchase alcohol for people less than 21 years of age.

Under the program, a minor under the direct supervision of a peace officer will stand outside a liquor or convenience store and ask patrons to buy them alcohol. The minor indicates in some way he or she is underage and cannot purchase the alcohol.

If the adults agree to purchase alcohol for the minor, officers then arrest and cite them for furnishing alcohol to the minor. The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1000 fine and 24 hours of community service.

The program is intended to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors. Statistics show they generally have a higher rate of drunken driving crashes than adults. Studies also show the combination of alcohol and youth tends to increase criminal conduct.

According to the American Medical Association, underage drinking can increase chances of risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, compromise health, and result in unintentional injury and death.

This project is part of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s Minor Decoy / Shoulder Tap Grant Project, funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A total of thirty two contacts were made at seven different establishments within the city of Vista. Every subject contacted refused to purchase alcohol for the minor decoys. At nearly every establishment visited, a patron alerted the manager to the presence of the minors soliciting alcohol.

The managers reacted accordingly by contacting the minors and asking them to leave the premises. As a result of every subject contacted obeying the law, and refusing to furnish alcohol to minors, no citations were issued and no arrests were made.

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