SANTA MONICA—On Saturday, March 11, the Santa Monica Police Department along with other local agencies in California conducted a Statewide Shoulder Tap Operation Day. The operation was conducted to cut back on the sale of alcohol to minors. According to the Los Angeles Department of Health, 19 percent of minors between the ages of 14-18 are considered binge drinkers.

With the rise in statistics, California has chosen to crack down on the sale of alcohol to underage minors with the Statewide Shoulder Tap Operation which sends out supervised decoys to investigate whether adults will illegally purchase alcohol for minors.

The Shoulder Tap Operation received its name because it emulates a minor tapping the shoulder of an adult and asking them to illegally buy alcohol for their consumption. In 2016, the Santa Monica Police conducted a Shoulder Tap Operation that was a success by bringing awareness to establishments that fail to verify age.

An underage decoy was placed outside 4 different licensed establishments to solicit alcohol from patrons entering and leaving. According to Lieutenant Samuel Rodriguez of the SMPD,  77 patrons were approached and one misdemeanor was issued. According to a press release from ABC, 447 were arrested in the statewide operation.

“Officers are stationed nearby to monitor them the entire time,” said Lieutenant Rodriguez to the Canyon News.

“[A] Few hours before the operation, the decoy is given specific rules and instructions. He or she is told to look certain ways, dress in certain ways, have their hair certain ways,” said Lt. Rodriguez.

“The decoy is usually always a minor, from age 18 to 20. The younger they are, the younger they look so as not to give away the cover,” he added.

The operation is part of the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control’s (ABC) Minor Decoy/ Shoulder Trap Grant Project.

Any sale of alcohol to a minor is subject to a minimum of $1000 fine and/or 24 hours of community service. All minors were supervised during the operation.

Written By Melody Teng and Callie West