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Redding Police Department Runs Decoy Operation in Attempt to Reduce Underage Drinking

On August 19, 2019 Redding Police Department officers cited two clerks, Sukhbir Sukhbir, age 29 of Bakersfield, working at the Vasu Gas and Food, 1120 Hartnell Avenue, and Debra Smith, age 57 of Redding, working at the Downtown Market, 1821 Placer Street, for selling alcohol to minors. Officers also cited two adults who purchased alcohol for minors, Jeremiah Miller, age 43 of Susanville, and Brian Fleischauer Jr., age 50 of Anderson. The actions were the result of a Minor Decoy Operation and Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation .

The Minor Decoy Operation involves minors who work under the direct supervision of department agents. The minors attempted to purchase alcohol from 16 retail licensees in the City of Redding.

Those who sold to the minor face a minimum fine of $250, and/or 24 to 32 hours of community service for a first violation. In addition, ABC will take administrative action against the alcoholic beverage license of the business where alcohol was sold to a minor. That may include a fine, a suspension or the permanent revocation of the license.

In addition to the Minor Decoy Operation, officers also conducted a Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation. Fifteen individuals were contacted. A Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation targets adults who purchase alcohol for people less than 21 years of age. Under the program, a minor under the direct supervision of a peace officer will stand outside a liquor or convenience store and ask patrons to buy them alcohol. The minor indicates in some way he or she is underage and cannot purchase the alcohol. If the adults agree to purchase alcohol for the minor, agents then arrest and cite them for furnishing alcohol to the minor. The penalty for furnishing alcohol to a minor is a minimum $1000 fine and 24 hours of community service.

Minor Decoy operations have been conducted by local law enforcement throughout the state since the 1980’s. When the program first began, the violation rate of retail establishments selling to minors was as high as 40 to 50 percent. When conducted on a routine basis, the rate has dropped in some cities as low as 10 percent or even below.

In 1994, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that use of underage decoys is a valid tool of law enforcement to ensure that licensees are complying with the law.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) through the department’s Grant Assistance Program. ABC is a Department of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency.

Contact: Sergeant Mark Montgomery ID#:314