Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image Tooele City Police Department members if the Alcohol Task Force.

August 24, 2022
Task Force aims at preventing underage drinking

The Tooele County Alcohol Task Force, created last year, aims to prevent underage drinking by making sure businesses aren’t selling to minors.

The force came about after Peter Clegg, Tooele County Health Department’s prevention coordinator, raised concerns to local law enforcement about the prevalence of underage drinking.

“We were hearing of places that kids know they could get alcohol from, just because we might not have been checking them frequently enough and people knew that they were able to get away with selling to minors,” said Det. Colbey Bentley, with the Tooele City Police Department.

After speaking to Clegg, Tooele City Police realized there was limited collaboration between local agencies related to preventing the sale of alcohol to minors.

“We realized we really hadn’t talked about any problems with alcohol that other cities were facing, so along with the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office, Stockton Police department, and Grantsville Police department, we formed a county-wide alcohol task force that focuses on preventing underage drinking and a lot of that work is done in preventing retail sale to minors,” Bentley explained.

The Tooele County Alcohol Task Force consists of 10 officers and professionals from the Tooele County Health Department.

The idea of an alcohol task force is a new concept in Utah.

“It’s worked pretty well for us,” Bentley said. “We want people to know we are on our game checking these places to make sure they aren’t selling to minors.”

The force works by recruiting responsible highschoolers, with parent permission of course, called CUBS, which stands for covert underage buyers, to go to a specific gas station or store that sells alcohol and try to purchase alcohol underage without proper identification.

If asked at the establishment, the CUBS are required to give their correct age.

Prior to visiting the establishments, the CUBS meet at the police department and watch training videos, then they are driven by officers in an undercover vehicle to the establishment.

“We want to make it really clear that we are not trying to entrap businesses,” Bentley said. “We are not trying to get them to sell to us. We hope that no one sells to us.”

If the business refuses to sell alcohol to the minor, the establishment will receive a compliance letter in the mail stating that they passed the test but if they do sell to the minor, both the business and the individual who sold will receive a citation and a court date. After receiving the citation and court date, the business may also receive one or two follow-up visits.

The majority of businesses have passed the test, according to Bentley.

The Task Force doesn’t perform the tests on bars, restaurants, or liquor stores, as they are tested frequently by the state.

Tobacco tests aren’t part of the program.

In March, the Alcohol Task Force traveled to Saint George for a state law enforcement conference where they were presented with the Law Enforcement Prevention Partnership Award for their exceptional community and coalition support by the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

 

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