SANTA MONICA – The Santa Monica Police Department along with more than 109 local Police and Sheriff’s Departments joined forces throughout California with agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) in a Statewide Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation on Saturday, March 15. ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

ABC agents along with local law enforcement led the program to arrest adults who purchased alcohol for minors under the age of 21. According to a press release from the SMPD, the program would use a minor as a decoy to get an adult to purchase alcohol for them while standing outside a liquor or convenience store, while under the supervision of a peace officer.

If an adult agreed to purchase alcohol for the minor, authorities would arrest and cite the adult for providing alcohol to a minor. The penalty for the adult is a minimum fine of $1000 and 24 hours of community service. The goal of the program is to decrease the availability of alcohol to minors under age. The American Medical Association indicates underage drinking leads to risky sexual behavior, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, may compromise health and could result in unintentional injury and death.

During the operation more than 544 arrests and citations were made throughout the state. Some adults were cited for open containers and false identification. Sixty people were arrested by authorities for crimes that included driving under the influence, illegal drugs, public drunkenness, parole violations, resisting arrest and outstanding warrants.

“Santa Monica Police Vice Investigators deployed 2 decoys to 15 different locations on Saturday. In total, they contacted 227 people in an attempt to get them to purchase alcohol for them. The Vice Investigators were proud to report that they did not encounter one violation. In fact, they encountered situations where clerks at alcohol establishments came out of their stores and told the decoys that what they were doing was illegal and asked them to leave,” states the press release.

The SMPD’s Vice Unit goal during such decoy operations is to enforce alcohol establishments and residents of the community to comply with current alcohol laws. With more than 227 attempts to “circumvent” those laws, and they all failed, provided good news to investigators. Several local operations were funded by the California ABC through the department’s Grant Assistance Program (GAP), while some were funded thanks to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).