I recently became aware of concerns local students have shared regarding a sting operation about to be implemented by the Isla Vista Foot Patrol. I understand the concerns came up at the recent 3rd District supervisor debates. According to rumors, the IVFP intends to send undercover minors into any party in I.V. with the intent of having someone furnish them alcohol. We would then entrap and arrest the persons furnishing alcohol.
This is not going to happen.
For clarification, let me explain what we are planning. We recently received a grant from the Dept. of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) for $50,000 to be used for overtime, allowing us to staff more deputies in I.V. and monitor alcohol sales to minors. High-risk drinking is a serious problem in I.V., especially with minors. As such, the IVFP proposes the following.
One program is the “decoy” program. First, we advertise our intentions in the media to make local alcohol business outlets aware of the upcoming operation. We recently did so in the Daily Nexus and the Santa Barbara News-Press.
We then deliver personalized letters to the same business owners, clearly stating what we are about to do.
Finally, we send people who are under 21 years old into local markets and restaurants. They attempt to buy alcohol. If the clerk asks the individual how old they are, the decoy must tell the truth. If the clerk asks for identification, the decoy must present his or her valid driver license, which shows that he or she is under 21 years old. If either of those scenarios occurs, and the sale is refused, we have been successful. Our goal is to work cooperatively with local businesses to reduce the sale of alcohol to minors. Should the clerk sell alcohol to the decoy, then the clerk will be cited, and the establishment could face administrative consequences from the ABC.
We will follow strict guidelines, including not using any decoy over 19 years old or even appearing over 19 years old.
The second plan involves local parties, although it does not infringe on anybody’s rights and does not constitute entrapment. This operation involves sending undercover deputies or ABC Investigators – any of them over 21 years old – into large public parties open to anyone. If the officers observe minors drinking beer from unattended kegs, they will cite both those minors and the people providing the alcohol. The party will be shut down.
In no case will we enter a party not open to the public. Again, strict guidelines will be observed to protect people’s rights. If an undercover officer is questioned about his presence, he will leave.
The goal here is twofold. We hope to make those who hold parties think twice before giving alcohol to minors. Second, the large open-keg parties are the main contributors of the crimes like fights, sexual assaults, property damage and theft.
I want to make one point clear: I understand college students are here not only to study but to also have fun. And, having been there, I know that fun includes partying. But I cannot stress enough the physical and mental toll these weekend nights impose on locals who drink to excess and either end up under arrest or involved in an assault.
The goal of these programs is to support your right to have parties, but to encourage you to do so on a smaller scale. Try to keep tabs on who comes to your parties, and don’t let things get out of hand. Prevent yourself from being cited for furnishing to a minor by rethinking the keg approach, as it allows unknown people to drink your alcohol. And call the Foot Patrol if things do get out of control and you need help clearing out your party.
Merely writing about the crime statistics does not paint the picture of what happens every weekend in I.V. Please e-mail me at . I’d be happy to explain the severity of the problem.
Tom McKinny is the lieutenant of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol.