‘Shoulder Tap Operation’ Targets Underage Alcohol Sales in Anaheim

October 14, 2020 Updated: October 14, 2020

The Anaheim Police Department has been secretly sending underage decoys into liquor stores as part of an undercover operation to discourage them from selling alcohol to minors in the Southern California city.

During the “Shoulder Tap Operation,” investigators from the department’s vice unit directed youngsters under the age of 21 to loiter in front of the stores and ask customers to buy them alcohol.

“The primary goal behind Shoulder Tap Operations is not to issue citations, but to raise awareness about the dangers of underage drinking,” according to an Oct. 12 statement released by the department.

Anaheim Police Sgt. Shane Carringer described the department’s latest Shoulder Tap Operation in full detail to The Epoch Times.

“They’ll say something to the person that’s approaching the liquor store, that they’re underage and they can’t buy booze, you know, ‘Can you buy me a six pack?’ or something similar,” Carringer said.

If an individual purchases alcohol for the minor, they are issued a misdemeanor citation. Those found guilty of providing alcohol to a minor are fined a minimum of $1,000 and 24 hours of community service, according to police.

The Anaheim Police Department reported that six retail liquor stores were targeted during a recent Sept. 30 operation, where 12 random customers were contacted by the minor decoys. In these cases, the operation was a success, according to Carringer.

“The businesses themselves are supposed to be on the lookout for this kind of activity and they’re supposed to dissuade it,” Carringer said.

“We had a couple businesses on this last Shoulder Tap Operation that actually came out, confronted our decoy, and told them to get lost. That’s exactly what we expect from the businesses.”

In the latest operation, two employees did a “commendable job” and actually requested that the minor decoys leave the premises for soliciting their customers to purchase them alcohol, police reported. Nobody actually bought liquor for a minor and no citations were issued.

Carringer said the program’s goal is not “trying to catch somebody doing something illegal,” but instead trying to stop them from buying alcohol for minors.

“More than 4,000 deaths of persons under the age of 21 occur annually as a result of DUI’s, alcohol poisonings and other alcohol related incidents,” according to the Oct. 12 press release.

The operation was part of the department’s Alcohol Policing Partnership program and was funded with a grant provided by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC).

“That grant is to ensure that the vendors in the city of Anaheim cooperate with ABC laws, and that’s one of the decoy programs that we run to ensure that those selling alcohol in the city of Anaheim are doing it responsibly,” he said.

According to police, Shoulder Tap is an ongoing operation—and more decoys can be expected to pop up unexpectedly over the next few months.