Author: Sgt. Scott Eberle
Date: April 10, 2017 5:28 AM

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

On April 8, 2017, officers with the San Rafael Police Department conducted a Minor Decoy and a Shoulder Tap operation.  As a result of the Shoulder Tap operation, officers cited two adults who purchased alcohol for minors.  As a result of the Minor Decoy Operation, two clerks were cited.

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 15 retail licensees in San Rafael.  The only business who sold to the decoy was Mi Pueblo Market. Two separate clerks who inspected the decoys identification were cited for selling alcohol to the minor. 

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, 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.  Out of the 44 adults the decoy asked to purchase alcohol, two agreed and furnished alcohol to the decoy.  They were both cited and released.

The following adults were cited as a result of the Minor Decoy Operation:

  • Fernandez, Vanessa 20-year-old female out of Richmond.
  • Duarte, Gloria E., a 23-year-old female from San Pablo

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

  • Cortez, Fidel A. a 50year old male from Berkeley.
  • Minard, Rakia a 39-year-old female 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: April 10, 2017 9:08 EDT (by Holm)

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