Monday The Now Bakersfield followed along with the Bakersfield Police Department (BPD) on an undercover operation that was also conducted with the help of the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) agency, to showcase how easy it is for minors to get alcohol in Kern County.
Officials said that the operation was not about trapping people but educating people on the problem and the importance of the law.
Across town detectives from BPD and ABC were staking out a parking lot at the Faststrip gas station. They used underage decoys posted up outside of the Faststrip station to see if adults would purchase alcohol for them.
As a man approached the decoys made their first move, explaining that they were 19-years-old, unable to buy alcohol themselves and wanted help getting a three pack of Budlight.
Detectives communicated over the wire to identify what transpired between the decoys and the people they approached, "Well it looks like they just made contact with one and he took the money," One ABC detective said over the wire.
The decoys waited to see if the man would follow through with his promise, while officials prepared a citation approach upon the exchange. After the man gave the decoys the Budlight ABC officials moved in on the man in the parking lot citing him with a fine that could range anywhere from $200 to $1000. "The first person bought for them, that definitely illustrates the problem that we have. It's just that easy for juveniles to acquire alcohol," One BPD detective said.
Officials said this operation is intended to combat the number of underage drinkers and youth intoxicated drivers. Detectives also said they see several accidents in correlation to this type of drinking each year in Kern County. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) also recorded over 4300 alcohol related deaths among minors each year across the United States. "Its absolutely refreshing when you see the stores come out and talk to the decoys and tell them that they can't stay, make them stop. It's refreshing when we get the citizens that some of them will give the kids a lecture and talk to them like they were talking to their own kid." One BPD detective said.
"They asked me if they could get a three pack of beer for them I say no! I say no because I got kids, I got kids and I don't want them requesting the same thing as these kids did to me," One man said outside of the Faststrip.
Detectives chose the Faststrip randomly but sometimes officials have reason to believe this activity is taking place and will choose a store based off that. In the first 40 minutes of the operation three people agreed to buy the decoys alcohol and were cited. A man also cited by officials after helping the decoys had methamphetamine and a warrant out for his arrest.
11 others were simply cited and released over the course of the night.
The shoulder tap operation was made possible by the ABC App grant, “What it does is it's three million dollars that we give out to local agencies to basically give them opportunity to focus on their ABC licenses and their ABC problems," One ABC agent said.
80 to 100 local agencies across the state of California receive allocated funds from the App grant to make operations like this possible at a local level. In hopes of spreading awareness and letting businesses know that at anytime officials may be conducting surveillance like this to combat the issue in Kern County, BPD and ABC chose to share this information with the public.
They said that they hope this operation encourages adults to uphold the law in Kern County and that businesses continue to practice ethical judgment in regards to minors.