Sting Operations

Some of the regular readers might remember a lengthy discussion some of us had with Al Recke, the coordinator of the local DUI Task Force over at GreaterFalls.com. These discussions centered around our local law enforcement "sting" operations, whereby they send minors in to various local establishments to try to buy booze. The last go round, they even did it to a private party.

The points that the commenters, including me, made, or tried to make, were that a) there is a significant cost to local businesses and their employees, b) there is a question whether this is how most minors even get their hands on the booze, and c) do the operations really help the problem get better? In fact, Mr. Recke at one point wrote: "It appears the numbers have not gone down and may even be going up some, but I feel that is all the more reason to push the issue on several fronts such as Malmstrom, bars, chain stores, mom & pop stores and parents." In other words, if the operations aren't working, that doesn't mean we should look at a different method, but do more stings!

Well, now the Tribune has jumped on board: "In addition, for three years, Great Falls police have used federal grants to conduct stings on businesses that sell alcohol to minors. It's no surprise that the program is unpopular with businesses, but there's no doubt it has increased the vigilance of checkout clerks and bartenders." [Emphasis Mine] 'Increasing vigilance' is fine if there is no cost involved, but for the clerks, bartenders and businesses who have to pay the price when they finally slip on the 5th sting, we might want to ask for actual results, rather than "increased vigilance."

I'll ask the question: Is there any evidence that the sting operations have reduced underage drinking in Cascade County? Anyone? Bueller?


a-fire-fly said...

Back in the day, when we were too young to buy, we didn't even try. We found someone who was old enough.
I believe these stings stop more people from buying cigarettes than alcohol.
It makes most sense in a bar, where the person selling can actually see who is consuming the alcohol.
In answer to your question-Not in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Cops have become nothing but social workers. They suck up grant money for stings and DUI roadblocks but cant afford the overtime to do surveillance on Casinos when there is a rash of robberies.

Stings and DUIs are a good income stream. Investigating burglaries is a negative revenue program.