Author: Sgt. Scott Eberle
Date: January 15, 2017 4:03 PM

San Rafael Police Department Runs Decoy Operation in Attempt to Reduce Underage Drinking

On January 14, 2017, officers with the San Rafael Police Department conducted a Minor Decoy and Shoulder Tap operation.  As a result of the Shoulder Tap operation, officers cited five adults who purchased alcohol for minors.  As a result of the Minor Decoy Operation, two clerks were cited of the 12 different liquor establishments where the decoys attempted to purchase alcohol. As a result of the Shoulder Tap Operation three adults were cited after purchasing alcohol for the decoys. 

The Minor Decoy Operation involves minors who work under the direct supervision of the San Rafael Police Department. The minors attempted to purchase alcohol from 11 retail licensees in San Rafael.  There were no buisnesses who sold to the decoys. 

When retailers sell to a minor they face a minimum fine of $250, and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation.  In addition, ABC will take administrative action against the alcoholic beverage license of the business where alcohol was sold to a minor.  That may include a fine, a suspension or the permanent revocation of the license.

In addition to the Minor Decoy Operation, San Rafael Police officers also conducted a Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation. A 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, agents, 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 following adults were cited as a result of the Minor Decoy operation:

  • MOHD-RAGIB, MAHMOOD AHMAD, a 46 year old male from San Rafael and clerk at Winton’s Liquor’s on Fourth Street. 
  • JONES, ASHLEY NICOLE, a 27 year old female from San Rafael and clerk at CVS in San Rafael on Third Street. 

 The following adults were cited as a result of the Shoulder Tap operation:

  • CANTU, JONATHAN, a 52 year old male from San Rafael. 
  • THOMAS, ROBERT LEE JR, a 52 year old male from San Rafael.
  • ALEXANDER, REGINALD, a 63 year old male from San Rafael. 

ABC is conducting the compliance checks statewide to reduce the availability of alcohol to minors.  Statistics have shown that young people under the age of 21 have a higher rate of drunken driving fatalities than the general adult population.

Minor Decoy operations have been conducted by local law enforcement throughout the state since the 1980’s.  When the program first began, the violation rate of retail establishments selling to minors was as high as 40 to 50 percent.  When conducted on a routine basis, the rate has dropped in some cities as low as 10 percent or even below.  

In 1994, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that use of underage decoys is a valid tool of law enforcement to ensure that licensees are complying with the law.  

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) through the department’s Grant Assistance Program.  ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

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Last Modified: January 15, 2017 7:04 EST (by Holm)

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