The numbers for the Lee’s Summit Police Department’s first liquor control “sting” of the new year yielded higher numbers than usual, but the sergeant in charge of the unit that conducts the operation labeled the citations given as a ‘happenstance’ rather than a trend.
Lee’s Summit Police Sgt. Greg Bryant of the department’s special investigations unit said a total of 29 retail locations in Lee’s Summit were checked, with nine clerks being cited for an illegal sale of alcohol.
The operation Jan. 9 targeted retail establishments responsible for following municipal and state law regarding the sale of alcohol to minors.
“To be honest with you, I think it’s just happenstance because we do (conduct the stings) regularly,” Bryant said Jan. 15. “Typically when we do the convenience stores and the small stores we get five or six (citations) – sometimes we get none. That was an unusual thing. In the (nearly) three years that I have been supervising this unit this is the most I’ve seen but I don’t really attribute one thing to it. It’s just happened that way.”
During the operation an underage decoy enters the business and attempts to purchase alcohol while wearing recording equipment to verify actions of both the decoy and business clerk.
“We typically use a 19- or 20-year-old that look like they are 19- or 20-years-old,” Bryant said. “We don’t try to play any tricks on anybody. They (the decoys) are volunteers, but we pay ‘em to do it. College kids need a little bit of money, so we give them a little bit of money. We keep them under constant surveillance because we are responsible for their safety; we just don’t turn them loose.
“There is no trickery involved. They go into the store, pick an alcoholic beverage, they take it to the register and they utilize the funds that we provide. The clerk’s responsibility is to refuse the sale.”
Bryant added the business clerk plays an important role in preventing underage alcohol consumption by completing one task – verifying the age of the purchaser. If the business clerk refuses to sell then management receives a letter congratulating them on the appropriate action of their employee.
If an illegal sale is made a detective with the special investigations unit enters the business after the decoy exits and issues a citation for the sale of alcohol to a minor.
The clerk has the primary responsibility for verifying age which is why they receive the citation and not the business. If repeated violations do occur at a particular business Missouri State Liquor Control may initiate disciplinary action against the businesses liquor license, Bryant said, but that determination is out of the police department’s hands.
“We don’t make them post a bond or anything,” he said. “It’s a citation that they (the clerks) can sign on the spot. Training and education is the key to it. If not for training and education what we saw (Jan. 9) instead of being an anomaly like it were, it would be more commonplace.”
During a quarterly alcohol “sting” conducted Jan. 9 by the Lee’s Summit Police Department citations were issued to store clerks in the following locations:
900 block of NE Colbern Road – Rush Hour
800 block of NE Rice Road – Sunny’s BP
1800 block of E Langsford Road – Caseys General Store
300 block of SE M-291 Highway – Gas Mart USA
800 block of SE M-291 Highway – QuikTrip #162
600 block of SW Jefferson – Traffic Jam BP
3300 block of SW 3rd Street – Longview Phillips 66
900 block of SW Oldham Parkway – 7-11 Food Store
900 block of NW Chipman Road – Presto