A bit of a chilly night, she heads inside with butterflies in her stomach. It was the first time she had done this and was unsure what to expect. *ding* The store clerk looks up, she knows to head straight to the back where the beer is chilling in the cooler. She picks up a case and nervously approaches the counter, in hopes that he doesn’t make the sale.
Walking around, meaninglessly glancing at snacks, Lieutenant Dan Stow watches as a young girl grabs a twelve-pack of Bud Light and heads to make a purchase. He is out of uniform, so he heads to stand behind her, in hopes that the clerk obeys the law and declines the sale.
Wearing his high school hoodie, the store clerk, as instructed by management, checks the girl’s state ID. Looking back and forth from the id to the girl, the girl to the id, “how old are you?” She honestly replies, “I’m 17.” The 16 year old clerk begins explaining how the store recently was busted for illegally selling alcohol to minors and they are now facing a huge fine. Yet he proceeds with the sale anyway, “I can only do this for you this time.” She hands him the twenty, he gives her the change and she immediately places it on the counter and heads towards the exit without the beer or money.
She actually doesn’t want the beer. Working as a decoy for on an alcohol compliance sting, she expected to be turned down, especially on her first visit. She is disappointed that the young clerk made the sale, even when it was clear she was underage. As she heads to wait safely in the police car, she motions that he made the sale; the other undercover officers head in.
Lt. Stow approaches the clerk, after the decoy exits the store, and asks how old if he knew how old the girl was. The clerk, who spoke English while talking with the decoy, responds to the officer only in Spanish. Stow informs the clerk that the girl, along with himself, are undercover performing routine checks across the metro, to ensure stores and merchants are obeying state law and not selling or serving alcohol to minors. After a thirty minute lecture from all three officers, the cops and decoys leave the property and carry on with the operation.
Because the clerk violated the law, he was charged with a misdemeanor with fines up to $500. Store management was also informed of the sale. This was the only case (out of 10 visits) held on the evening of December 28th where a sale was made.
Local officers, in partnership with Eagle Ridge Institute, are out checking for law compliance, enforcing the law and educating those serving and selling alcohol in the OKC metro area. These operations are important to the community because “alcohol in the hands of minors is dangerous as underage drinking is related to crime, violence, sexual assault, poisonings, injury and car wrecks and engaging in other risky behaviors,” Lieutenant Jason Yingling, lead officer of the alcohol compliance operation.
As a community member, it is important to report any store, restaurant, merchant and/or business that sells or serves alcohol to minors. You can do so by contacting your local law enforcement via the non-emergency telephone number. If you sell or serve alcohol, do so responsibly by regularly checking ID and declining sales to minors.
“It our job as officers and as a community to do whatever we can to protect our children and make our communities safer,” Lt. Yingling.