On March 9, the Chula Vista Police Department arrested three people for providing alcoholic beverages to minors.
The operation was called Decoy Shoulder Tap, where a minor under the direct supervision of a peace officer stands outside of a convenience or liquor store and asks patrons to purchase alcohol for them.
“I’d wear a hoodie and a wire and just go up to random people and ask them to buy me beer,” said “Jessica,” a former decoy. Jessica requested that I change her name for the article; she was a police cadet in the 1990s under the supervision of the San Diego Police Department. “My supervisors would [monitor us] in an unmarked van.”
In these undercover operations, which are part of the statewide Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) initiative, the minor decoy states to the prospective liquor-buyer that he/she cannot legally purchase alcohol because he/she is underage.
“After they purchased my beer, they would walk outside of the store, leave it (the beer) on the ground and then walk away …. then the arresting police officers would apprehend and cite” the subject for furnishing alcohol to a minor.
“The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1000 fine and 24 hours of community service,” according to the Chula Vista Police Department’s Facebook; they posted photos of one of the three busts on March 9, which depicted the decoy, the suspect (with beer in hand) and a Circle K employee.
“Thank goodness we didn’t have Facebook back then,” Jessica said. “I had to take photos with the suspect at the police station.”
“I got approached a couple times by minors asking if I’d buy them alcohol by the 7-11 ….,” said an Imperial Beach resident who saw the Facebook post. “[I] never went for it though, sting or just kids trying to party, I’m not supporting that.”
A Chula Vista resident remembers when he and his underaged “party crews would kick-it” outside of liquor stores and tip the liquor-buyers “an extra 5-or-10 spot.”
“But nowadays you get a $1000 fine and your face on Facebook,” he said. “You can keep your tips bro, I’m not down with it.”
According to the ABC website: “Selection of the minor decoy is critical. Desirable qualifications include being: under 20 years of age (and appearing that age); truthful; willing to work undercover, wear a radio transmitter and have their conversations recorded; comfortable making a face-to-face identification of the suspect after the violation and to have their photograph taken with the suspect; able to prepare a written report; willing to testify in court; and willing to undergo media attention.”