Local police use 'Shoulder Tap' program to snare adults buying alcohol for minors

By The Leader Staff
Local police use 'Shoulder Tap' program to snare adults buying alcohol for minors

The Lemoore Police Department, utilizing a program called the Decoy Shoulder Tap Program, cited three individuals and arrested another for purchasing alcohol for minors. The undercover operation took place Sept. 1 and 2 in Lemoore.

The Decoy Shoulder Tap Program is a newly-created enforcement program that ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) and local law enforcement agencies use to detect and deter shoulder tap activity.

During the program, a minor decoy, under the direct supervision of law enforcement officers, solicits adults outside ABC licensed stores to buy the minor decoy alcohol. Any person seen furnishing alcohol to the minor decoy is arrested (either cited or booked) for providing alcohol to a minor (a violation of Section 25658(a) Business and Professions Code). 

Local police use 'Shoulder Tap' program to snare adults buying alcohol for minors

During the operations, 30-year-old Cesar Hernandez and 25-year-old Alejandro Quintero, both from Lemoore, were cited for the misdemeanor violation. The operation also led to the arrest of 30-year-old Homar Ramirez of Riverdale, suspected of being under the influence of a controlled substance and in possession of drug paraphernalia. Also, 22-year-old Cuauhtemoc Marmolejo of Laton, who is on Kings County Probation, was cited for being in possession of drug paraphernalia.

When the California Supreme Court ruled in 1994 that minor decoys could be used by law enforcement to check whether stores were selling alcohol to minors (persons under age 21), the violation rate was nearly 50 percent.

 In some cities, almost one out of every two stores failed to check a minor's age and sold them alcohol. In 1997 the violation rate had dropped to less than 10 percent in those cities that used the Minor Decoy Program on a regular basis.

Minors then turned to the "shoulder tap" method of getting alcohol by standing outside of a liquor store or market and asking adults to buy them alcohol. A recent survey conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department indicated that as much as 46 percent of all minors who attempt to acquire alcohol use this method.

To achieve its objectives, the Decoy Shoulder Tap Program relies on the sworn staff members of ABC and the local law enforcement agency.

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