SIKESTON - After receiving numerous complaints from parents in the area, officials with the Sikeston Department of Public Safety are taking action to try to curb the number of underage people obtaining alcohol.
DPS detectives used underage informants to help with the investigation by "stinging" places where the "too young" adults and teenagers are getting alcoholic beverages.
DPS Director Drew Juden said the informants were sent into numerous places during the past two weeks and were "shockingly surprised at how easy it was for them to purchase alcohol from local businesses."
According to the reports, 14 of the 17 checked businesses sold alcohol to the underage informants without asking for any type of identification. "The persons who were used are not someone you would mistake as being older," Juden said. "Only one place that sold to the informants asked for their date of birth, which when given was a false date of birth and they were able to obtain the alcohol."
Juden added, "It really is concerning just how easy it was." He said all the business owners will be contacted and a meeting is planned to go over the findings and advise them who the employees involved were. A criminal summons will be given to each employee who supplied alcohol to the minors.
"We had been planning something like this for awhile to try to see just how bad the problem was," he continued, "but when several complaints surfaced from the community, we felt we had to try to take action now. We were fortunate to find people who were willing to help us in the sting. Obviously, from our findings we will have to continue to use this approach to try to get the businesses to follow the laws and guidelines set forth to prevent minors from obtaining alcohol."
In reviewing the cases, Juden said many of the people who made the sales, as well as the businesses, probably fail to realize the liability of selling alcohol to minors places them in. "Should some accident occur, the people supplying the alcohol would be potentially liable for their actions in supplying what could ultimately be the cause of the accident or incident."
Juden stated putting alcohol in the hands of minors is just about like putting a gun in the hands of a child. "Most of the time they are riding around in cars drinking. They are just not ready for the responsibilities associated with it and peer pressure is such that they won't quit until it's too late.
"We have had several tragedies in the past and the last thing any parent wants is that call one night saying, 'Your son (or daughter) has been involved in an accident and I am sorry to inform you that ....'
"It can happen at any age, but the law in the State of Missouri requires you to be 21 for a reason, primarily because of maturity, responsibility and hopefully better reasoning."