MPD targets underage alcohol sales

Liquor stores beware: the Milwaukee Police Department is targeting local businesses selling alcohol to those under 21.

Officers in MPD District 2 on the city’s near south side conducted a “sting” in late August on stores that sell to underage consumers. It’s part of a larger citywide crackdown on underage alcohol sales.

According to MPD, officers sent individuals under the age of 21 into local businesses and instructed them to buy alcohol. Officers checked to make sure store clerks were asking to see identification before selling the alcohol.

In the sting, the underage MPD employees and officers visited 47 licensed convenience and liquor stores. Of these, 20 stores sold alcohol illegally.

Many store clerks did not even ask for identification. Some did, but still sold the underage MPD employees alcohol — even if they could not produce identification. One store sold alcohol after the MPD employee showed identification that stated he was under 21.

MPD Captain Donald Gaglione of District 2 said the latest bust shows alcohol laws must be more strictly enforced.

“Although most of the stores did the right thing, way too many did illegally sell the alcohol, showing we have a problem that needs to be corrected,” Gaglione said in a press release.

Gaglione and officers delivered citations to the sales clerks and establishments that illegally sold alcohol. The fine issued to clerks who sell alcohol to an underage customer is $160. In addition, each establishment is fined $356 per violation. If the clerk or establishment has previous alcohol violations, the fines increase.

In MPD’s District 3, which encompasses Marquette’s campus, police regularly conduct stings on licensed establishments, Captain Christopher Domagalski said. Although such operations have not been conducted recently, Domagalski said the stings have uncovered serious infractions in the past.

Capt. Russell Shaw, associate director of Marquette’s Department of Public Safety, said MPD always notifies DPS of any establishments selling alcohol to underage consumers. Shaw said DPS officers have not encountered many problems with underage sale of alcohol this school year.

Domagalski, however, notes that parties thrown on college campuses are of concern to MPD. Last weekend, MPD and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Police targeted underage drinkers at the the East Side campus.

Domagalski said students who throw parties on campus should be aware of the consequences of underage consumption.

“If there are students who host parties in off-campus areas they better make sure they are abiding by all the laws,” Domagalski said.

Shaw said officers on campus have not encountered a large number of parties where underage drinking occurred, although it is still early in the school year.