Police target adults who buy alcohol for minors in Merced County

Local law enforcement this week released the results of their efforts to reduce underage drinking through a program funded by a state grant.

In July, Livingston, Atwater and Gustine police were awarded a $47,000 grant through the Alcohol Beverage Control Grant Assistance Program, according to a Livingston police news release.

Six months into the program, the three departments have conducted six operations, including Impact Program inspections and shoulder-tap buys, which resulted in arrests and citations within the six month period.

Impact Program inspections are conducted by local officers accompanied by state Alcoholic Beverage Control agents. The goal is to enter establishments that sell alcohol and note any visible violations that may be present within their store. Officers then educate store owners about current laws and ensure the violations are rectified. Store owners are also informed of possible consequences, if they fail to address the violations, the release said.

Shoulder-tap buys are undercover operations where law enforcement places a decoy in front of an establishment. The decoy then contacts patrons entering the business, to see if they will purchase alcohol for them. If the patron buys the minor alcohol, they are contacted by law enforcement and cited for the offense.

Since receiving the grant, police said they have contacted 120 people, visited 35 premises in the three cities, cited 14 people for providing alcohol to minors and arrested four people for various narcotic offenses.

Police said ABC Agent Lori Kohman, Livingston Police Detective Patrick Radke and Atwater Police Cpl. Dayton Snyder were instrumental in overseeing each operation.

Police are reminding the public that if they’re approached by a minor and asked to purchase alcohol, the appropriate action is to walk away and report it to authorities. Providing alcohol to minors is a crime that can result in jail or a fine. Local establishments who sell alcohol to minors could face a short or lengthy suspension of their liquor license. Those businesses could also face fines and have their license taken away, the release said.