WSVN — Any teenager can tell you, you don’t have to be 21 to buy alcohol. Cops know it too, and in Coral Springs, they’re going undercover with teens to make sure businesses comply with the law. 7’s Craig Stevens has more on how these “Undercover Kids” are working hand in hand with police.
This 19-year-old boy is working undercover … so is this teenage girl.
Officer Jason Mulvey, Coral Springs Police: “We get them documented as confidential informants with our Vice Intelligence Narcotics unit.”
Coral Springs police call them “confidential informants” or “C.I.’s,” working with them in the fight against underage drinking.
Boy 1: “It’s exciting. I have fun with it.”
The teens are assigned selected businesses, checking to see if clerks and servers are selling alcohol to minors.
Officer Mulvey: “We always lose kids every year, and we’re trying to prevent that.”
Officer Jason Mulvey has a passion for the program and for good reason — 10 years ago, he was a victim of a drunk driver.
Officer Mulvey: “It definitely gives me a drive and a motivation to make sure everyone goes home safe.”
Tonight– he briefs the four teens and their support teams. They get money, and hit the street with a list of assigned stores, restaurants and bars.
Confidential Informant: “It’s definitely nerve-racking because you never know what situation you’re going to wind up in.”
Each teenager goes in with an undercover officer. They are there to protect them and to be a witness if a sale occurs.
At first, the teens are turned down.
At one gas station, the clerk asks for I.D. She says, “No way.”
Officer Mulvey: “This is actually a good thing.”
Then a clerk at a Walmart makes a sale and is pulled aside by the undercover officers.
It happens again at a Chili’s, and at a Mr. Mart store. This clerk looks out the window as the teen leaves, and realizes his error.
Clerk: “I’ve been doing this for 14 years, this is the first time this has ever happened.”
Clerks or bartenders who sell to the minors are given a notice to appear — either for a court date, or if they’ve never been arrested, for a misdemeanor diversion program.
Boy 1: “When you actually get somebody the first time, you feel really excited. But then when it’s all done, you feel kind of bad that you probably just got somebody in trouble.”
In this sting … Tijuana Taxi company also got in trouble. The bartender here asked for I.D., then went ahead and served the undercover teen a Bud Light.
Tijuana Bartender: “I must have not looked at it right, but I definitely looked at it.”
Cops were concerned because this is the same place that served Kayla Mendoza in 2014. She was the 20-year-old who tweeted “2 drunk 2 care,” before getting into a fatal car accident that killed two Coral Springs teens.
Officer Mulvey: “They have to be more thorough about what they do.”
Of the 48 businesses checked on this sting – nine sold alcohol to the teens. It’s a hard lesson for those caught, but these undercover kids say it’s an important effort to try and save lives.
Confidential Informant: “I had a friend like three weeks ago die in a car crash on Sawgrass. Terrible ’cause the other guy was drinking so to do this is definitely rewarding.”
Coral Springs Police conduct the alcohol abatement retail compliance checks with their team of undercover teens every four months.
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