Clovis Police hope undercover operation will deter underage drinking

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Undercover decoys lingered on the corners of Clovis liquor stores waiting to catch adults breaking the law. But instead of police officers, teenagers were tasked with catching the adults.

"It's not you who is doing something wrong," Brandon said, who is one of five decoys. "You're trying to catch someone that are doing something wrong."

On Friday, they visited several convenience stores and gas stations. Their job was to walk up to people ask them to buy alcohol. Officers listening through a wire and wait for the customer to make a decision.

"They know straight up what my age is at that point," Brandon said. "So, it's their choice. Say no, just say no."

The decoys soon caught a woman is this car who agreed to buy them beer. Officers wrote her a citation. They said it's alarming how easily available people make alcohol to teenagers.

"Sometimes they'll say, 'Well, I was young once too and thought I was helping,'" Cpl. Max Garces with Clovis Police said. "Others will just admit they're wrong and don't give much more of a statement because they are embarrassed."

Brandon said working the operation is nerve-racking at the beginning. The job is difficult but he's playing his part to keep friends and family safe.

"There is a reason the age is 21," Brandon said. "And there are a lot more accidents that could be prevented."

Officers say about 10 percent of people they stop will agree to buy alcohol. It's a significant number but police said it's at least comforting knowing that these kids can tell right from wrong better than adults.

"They know it hurts their friends and other kids at that age," Garces said. "It's very encouraging to see young kids like that wanting to do the right thing and helping out."
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