The Santa Barbara City Police Dept. received a $50,000 grant this summer to increase enforcement of alcohol-related crimes in downtown Santa Barbara, specifically targeting people using fake identification at State Street bars and liquor stores.
The California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board, which awarded the SBPD the grant, will be officially presenting the money in a ceremony on Oct. 18. Lt. Paul McCaffrey, spokesman for the SBPD, said the grant will help pay for fake I.D. busts, bar employee training and vendor sting operations.
McCaffrey said the money will also allow more SBPD officers to patrol the downtown area on weekends.
“We will increase enforcement,” McCaffrey said. “That includes entering clubs and looking for underage persons that may have counterfeit identification and checking their I.D.s. The primary use of the money will be for extra officers during times when the enforcement is most needed.”
In addition, McCaffrey said the grant will help fund sting operations to ensure local stores do not sell alcohol to underage persons.
In one such operation, McCaffrey said, SBPD will send in underage decoys to provide their real identification with their real underage birth date on it and attempt to buy alcohol. He said police will also send in underage decoys who will try to purchase alcohol without any form of I.D., and businesses that violate alcohol laws will be issued citations.
McCaffrey said the money will also go toward training local bar and club employees in identifying fake I.D.s and other practices to help reduce the number of alcohol-related crimes in Santa Barbara.
“We provide Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training that informs bar security and bartenders on spotting false identification and when to stop serving patrons that have had to much to drink,” he said. “There has been a lot of voluntary compliance from the clubs in the RBS training program, and that is what we are really looking for.”
Sharkeez assistant manager John Slaugh said that his bar has made an effort to cooperate with the SBPD and ABC.
“The general managers and manager have taken the RBS course, and our other staff has been working directly with police officers that work on State Street on busy nights,” Slaugh said.
Nick Self, manager of Q’s nightclub on State Street, said that his staff has also done the ABC training program, but he said they rarely find underage drinkers in their bar.
“The last time we had a minor caught in our bar was in June,” Self said. “We’re really good at bustin’ I.D.s.”
Slaugh said that finding underage drinkers in Sharkeez is also a rare occurrence.
“Uniformed officers pulled two people out of the bar in the last six months,” Slaugh said. “They had real I.D.s that weren’t them, but [the I.D.s] were so close that we didn’t catch them and we didn’t get a ticket. The amount of people with fake I.D.s trying to get in seems about the same; we usually pull two or three a night, but we have stepped up our staff’s enforcement and awareness.”
McCaffrey said that he hopes the new grant money will reduce the role alcohol plays in crimes downtown.
“We want individuals, clubs and vendors to reach a greater adherence to the law, along with a reduction of serious incidents that are related to alcohol,” McCaffrey said.