SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) cited a liquor store in Santa Monica for selling alcohol to a minor while conducting an undercover minor decoy operation on September 9.

Sunset Plaza Liquor on Pico Boulevard was the only liquor retail location out of eight visited by the SMPD that was issued a criminal citation for violation of the Business and Professions Code prohibiting the sales of alcohol to underage parties, Sergeant Rudy Camarena, Public Information Officer for the SMPD told Canyon News.

Both the location and the employee were issued a citation at 5:44 p.m.

Sunset Plaza Liquor storefront: Image taken from Facebook page
Sunset Plaza Liquor storefront: Image taken from Facebook page

The SMPD minor decoy operation teamed up with supervised individuals who are under the age of 20, visited licensed Santa Monica stores in the pursuit to detect the illegal underage sales of alcohol. The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has been using such practices since October 2014.

Within the last year, the percentage of alcohol retail premises selling to minors has decreased at an astonishing rate. Soon after the Supreme Court’s decision, which ruled decoy methods lawful, 50 percent of locations visited were caught selling alcohol to the underage decoys. Today, the “hit-rate” is below 20 percent, says ABC.

The Decoy Program, used by over 100 agencies, “has been recognized as an excellent method to attack the problems associated with the unlawful purchase and consumption of alcoholic beverages by young people,” states The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The California Office of Traffic Safety funds this operation, which is part of the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s Minor Decoy/Shoulder Tap Grant Project. Both are through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The seven liquor retail locations that were cleared included:

  • Surf Liquor, Main Street
  • Star Liquor, Main Street
  • Arco, Pico Boulevard
  • Ed’s Liquor, Pico
  • Barrell Wine Liquor, Pico
  • Rite Aid, Pico
  • 7-11, Lincoln Boulevard