Fortuna Police Department press release:

The Fortuna Police Department cited one clerk for selling alcohol to a minor on February 21, 2015. The action was a result of a Minor Decoy Operation that was conducted in the City of Fortuna.

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

The clerk who sold to the minor will face minimum fine of $250, and/or 24-32 hours of community service for a first violation. In addition, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control will take administrative action against the alcoholic beverage license, (Campton Heights Market - School Street) where alcohol was sold to a minor. That may include a fine, a suspension or a permanent revocation of the license.

In addition to the Minor Decoy Operation, the Fortuna Police Department also conducted a program called a Decoy Shoulder Tap Operation which targets adults who purchase alcohol for people less than 21 years of age. Under the program, a minor under 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. During the operation, a total of 19 patrons were asked to purchase alcohol for the minor.

If the adult agrees to purchase alcohol for the minor, Officers 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 alcohol 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.