Berkeley Police Department implements statewide program to deter underage alcohol consumption

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Kevin Reber/File

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Berkeley Police Department worked in conjunction with both UCPD and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, or ABC, on Saturday to enforce the Shoulder Tap Operation, a project aimed at reducing underage access to alcohol.

The Decoy Shoulder Tap Program, also known as Shoulder Tap operation, is an enforcement program that ABC and local law enforcement agencies use to detect and deter “shoulder tap activity,” according to the program’s website. “Shoulder tap activity” is a method used by minors to obtain alcohol by standing outside a liquor store and asking adults to buy them alcohol.

ABC spokesperson John Carr said ABC organized its sixth annual statewide operation Saturday, and BPD was one of 80 agencies that worked with ABC on the operation. According to Carr, officials made 447 arrests statewide. He said in an email that BPD and UCPD made a total of 26 citations and arrests in Berkeley — 10 of which were for furnishing alcohol to a minor, 12 for possession of a fake ID, three for an open container and one for a minor in possession of alcohol.

“The whole idea of the program was to raise awareness about the problem of underage drinking and to get local law enforcement involved,” Carr said. “If we can get the message out to young people, they talk to each other, parents talk to teens. Everyone works together to keep you safe.”

One of the program’s goals is to reduce underage consumption of and access to alcohol by deterring adults from purchasing alcoholic beverages for minors, according to the ABC website. The website said ABC hopes to accomplish this goal by providing training and grants to local law enforcement agencies to run the program.

BPD has been carrying out Shoulder Tap operations since 2003, when it first began receiving grants from ABC, according to BPD spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel. Frankel said BPD periodically carries out its own operations.

“We’re trying to curtail the number of alcohol-related incidents,” Frankel said. “It’s not just open container or shoulder tap. It’s all services that could impact the safety of the community.”

Contact Carina Zhao at [email protected].