Stores hit for sales to minors

Taverns also cited in weeklong alcohol sting

Posted: Wednesday, May 31, 2000

Too often, high school graduation comes with drunken kids getting hurt.

In a preemptive strike, the Juneau Police Department and the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board put a sting operation into motion last week, and stung 10 clerks at eight of the 30 businesses checked.

Misdemeanor charges against those clerks are pending, said Ed Kalwara, Juneau investigator for the alcohol board. Violation notices will go to all of the stores, which could lead to revoked liquor licenses or other sanctions.

Stung were Kmart, Fred Meyer, Oaken Keg, The Hangar, the Red Dog Saloon, Deharts Liquor Store, Fisherman's Bend and Budget Liquor, according to Kalwara.

Police started with liquor stores, and moved onto more complicated checks at area bars, he said. Police didn't go after particular businesses, he said.

``There was not a map,'' Kalwara said. ``We decided to start with the liquor stores so that the agents involved could become accustomed to the operation.''

According to Kalwara, three different clerks at Kmart and two at Fred Meyer sold to the 18- to 20-year-olds involved in the operation. The youths were armed with their own identification cards, said Kalwara, and were told to produce them if a clerk asked them to. He said clerks either didn't ask for identification or failed to check the date carefully enough.

The checks started May 24, and ran through Monday, he said.

The timing is based largely on the availability of funding for the sting, Kalwara said. However, the timing is good, since seniors at Juneau-Douglas High School are graduating this weekend. Graduation parties and alcohol come together, he said, and there'll be law enforcement staff paying particular attention to the high school revelers.

During a similar operation in Fairbanks earlier this month, 12 of 23 bars and liquor stores failed the test. In Anchorage, five of 50 such businesses checked failed.

The last time there was a similar operation, in 1997, it was run by Juneau police. At that time, Juneau police reported that all 11 businesses checked did check identification. Included among the businesses found in compliance then were Kmart, Fred Meyer, Oaken Keg and Deharts Liquor Store, where staff were found to be out of compliance in the most recent investigation.

Juneau police didn't return calls for comment about the investigation before the Empire's midday deadline.

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