AURORA | Getting someone to sneak you a beer before you’re 21 looks to be getting a tougher in Aurora.
According to Aurora police, a recent compliance check by the department’s Intelligence Unit came up empty. Of the 19 stores and restaurants around town that were tested by a decoy, not a single one sold alcohol to a minor, police said.
Sgt. Scott Newhouse, who oversees the unit, said the compliance check last month was the first he could remember that came back perfect.
“Hopefully the message is getting out,” he said.
Stores and restaurants that sell to underage customers face fines, and Newhouse said they also can count on being tested again in the next round of compliance checks.
Newhouse said the department relies on young people from the Aurora Police Explorer program to attempt to buy alcohol. The young people are all younger than 21 and they don’t use fake IDs, he said.
“There are no games on our side being played,” he said.
Typically, two to three of the 19 or so businesses the unit checks sell alcohol to someone underage, Newhouse said.
The compliance checks are one of a handful of duties for the five-person Intelligence Unit, which is also responsible for providing security when dignitaries visit Aurora.
Newhouse said the unit doesn’t do similar tests on tobacco sales, and doesn’t have plans to do similar checks on the recreational marijuana stores set to open next month. City staff along with officers from the department’s narcotics unit are working out how those new retailers will be checked on, Newhouse said.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the number of teenagers who regularly drink is down from the 1970s and 1980s, when about 40 percent of high school seniors said they had five or more drinks in one sitting in the past few weeks. Still, since a steady drop in the early 1990s, the numbers have held at about 30 percent since.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol is generally easy to get for young people, with 93.4 percent of adolescents ages 12 to 14 who drank alcohol in the past month got it for free, in many cases, through family members or finding it at home. The CDC also said alcohol use is more common among teens than tobacco or marijuana use.