The Forest Grove Police Department (FGPD) recently conducted an undercover investigation of local businesses and their willingness to sell alcohol to minors. Out of the 20 businesses that were investigated, three in total were guilty of selling to people under the age of 21.
FGPD Patrol Sergeant Scott King is the supervisor of these investigations and explained that these are routine checkups on businesses to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing.
“We get new businesses all the time and we want to make sure they are adhering to the laws,” King said. “We also have places like Safeway and Bi-Mart who have staff turnover, so they might have new clerks working there. The point is not to get them in trouble, we just want to make sure they are complying with the law so we can reduce youth access to alcohol.”
For this investigation, the FGPD selects minors to go into local businesses and attempt to buy liquor and according to King, they do not use minors who look too close to the legal age of 21.
“We use people in a certain age range and we don’t allow them to wear makeup or do their hair to try to make themselves look over 21,” King said. “We want to make sure the clerk has the best chance possible to catch them.”
As for this investigation, the three businesses guilty of selling to minors included Kama’aina, Safeway and Tienda La Rosa. After these businesses fail the test, they receive a visit from the FGPD and Oregon Liquor Control Commission(OLCC).
“We go with OLCC because there are other liquor laws that involve OLCC which we cannot enforce but they can,” King said.“The owner of the business or the individual clerks who sold to minors can receive administrative fines from OLCC for those violations. We go with them when someone is found to have sold alcohol to a minor because it is a crime in the state of Oregon and that person will receive a citation to appear in court and then OLCC will meet with the owner of the business to talk about possible fines.”
The FGPD receives grant money to conduct these investigations usually three to four and sometimes up to six times a year. According to King, marijuana investigations are currently being discussed. The FGPD does not yet do these kinds of investigations for marijuana, but King hopes they will be able to soon.
“We don’t do them for marijuana yet because those regulations haven’t passed but we are trying,” King said. “There are currently only two shops in town so there is not a lot of choices, but our goal is to someday chat with those businesses as well.”