Local News

Cary officers, teens pair up to combat underage drinking

Posted December 28, 2016

— Celebration is to be expected during the holidays, but underage drinking is not and Cary police are cracking down on those who don’t play by the rules.

On Wednesday night, teens teamed up with Cary police for Operation Blackjack to make sure store clerks are following the rules when it comes to selling alcohol to minors.

Lt. Greg Savage said officers tend to see more attempts at underage drinking during times when school is not in session.

“Of course there’s no school this time of year, so it’s a good opportunity to do this and it works in perfectly with the holidays,” he said.

Twenty-one is the magic number needed to win in a game of blackjack and it’s also the age at which a person is legally allowed to purchase and consume alcohol. Operation Blackjack pairs high school volunteers with officers to shop at a variety of grocery and convenience stores in Cary to ensure they’re complying with alcohol sales laws and checking IDs.

Last year’s operation resulted in six citations after visiting 27 stores.

“Some people think that it’s the store that’s responsible if they make the underage sale, but it’s actually the clerk or cashier,” said Savage.

Savage said the goal this year is to visit at least 30 stores. Perhaps most impressive about the operation is the willingness of teenagers to help officers get the job done during their time off from school.

‘Our school resource officers have excellent relationships with the staff and students of their high schools and they’re all high school students from Cary High School and just that rapport that the officers build with the students in the schools,” Savage said.

A clerk who sells alcohol to a minor could face a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of a fine. Minors who violate the laws against purchase or consumption or adults who give minors alcohol or allow them to use their ID could face a range of consequences, including probation and a $1,000 fine.

As of about 10 p.m., officers had made 29 stops and written five citations.

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