TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa County Sheriff’s deputies are getting ready to crack down on underage drinking.
It’s part of a new campaign to make sure local bars and restaurants are following Oklahoma’s laws on selling alcohol. A $10,000 grant from the “2 Much 2 Lose” program is helping launch the campaign which is designed to keep alcohol out of the hands of people under 21.
The sheriff's office will partner with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, with the grant money paying for extra shifts for deputies. Those deputies, along with a volunteer will go to bars and restaurants for alcohol compliance checks.
“We will have on-duty deputies, we will have underage buyers," says Sgt. Lamont Hill. "They will attempt to make a purchase of alcohol, and if they do not make the purchase, then we will talk with the business owners. But if they do, there’s consequences for that."
The sheriff’s office says this isn't about targeting local businesses - but educating them.
“We are going to educate them on how to read the ID, because the date of birth is in different places, how to calculate it, things of that nature. Like I said, it's more of education, not just enforcement,” says Hill.
The sheriff’s office says they aren’t just focusing on a specific area or type of business.
“We don’t have a particular area or store that we are saying, 'okay here is our problem', so we are going to give everyone some love."
Hill says underage drinking is a bigger problem than it used to be, and that’s why it’s important for law enforcement to be proactive.
“It's huge because if we were reactive on this, then it's too late. It's too late, and someone can get hurt at that point. We are trying to prevent people from getting hurt, prevent kids from getting addicted to alcohol and prevent adults who already may be addicted from furthering that addiction."
The campaign kicks off this month and right now it runs until June. The sheriff’s office hopes to get more funding and continue the program after June.
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