Alcohol sales to minors on the rise this year

Lawton_Lawton Police have been working tirelessly to prevent liquor stores from selling alcohol to minors, and they've aggressively worked the 2M2L (2 Much 2 Lose) Program. The program has police sending minors - working with authorities - into local businesses to purchase alcohol. If the clerk, or store, sells the kids alcohol - despite their being underage - police fine them. However, it doesn't seem as if the program is doing the job it has intended to do. 24 businesses were fined just this month, and each of them had been warned. LPD sent flyers to each and every store, but far too many businesses flunk - sometimes two or three times.

For some schools prom has come and gone, but for others, it's just around the corner. "Obviously kids are out there with the after parties, with prom," says Lawton Police Detective Lombardo. "They're going to be out there attempting to buy alcohol, or obtain it somehow." So, LPD is cracking down on businesses, but they can't understand why the numbers are getting worse. "I don't know what the answer is, I just wish people would take more time and concern," says Lombardo.

In January, 122 businesses were checked - and 19 failed. In February, 69 were checked and 17 failed, in March, 21 out of 104 failed - and in April 24 out of 94 failed the test. "This month 25% of the businesses we checked sold to minors," says Lombardo. Some businesses were cited more than once. "We have one business that's been cited three times within the last two weeks, which is just crazy," she says.

"The Convenience Store" was the business cited three times in two weeks, and both "Holiday Bowl" and "A & A Foods" at 27th and H Avenue were cited twice each. "Alcohol is the number one killer of kids 25 and under of all narcotic drugs put together," says Lombardo. "So it is an issue - and it's an important issue - we like to bring public awareness and education to."

Lombardo says one of the frustrating things is that many of the clerks check the IDs, recognize that the person is under 21, and still sell them alcohol. The distinction between the ID of a minor and adult is obvious - the IDs for those under 21 are vertical, not horizontal like everyone else's.

Lombardo says businesses cannot be fined since it's not always the same clerk selling alcohol. She says it would be unfair to fine the business owner if they've taken the proper measure to discipline their employees.