TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office is partnering with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to keep alcohol out of the hands of underage people.
We rode along with two sheriff’s deputies and a volunteer as they stopped by businesses in Tulsa County, checking to see if those establishments are following Oklahoma law.
“We are trying to make sure establishments that sell alcohol whether it be a restaurant or a bar, or liquor store is in compliance with Oklahoma state law with the legal drinking age to be 21,” says Sgt. Lamont Hill.
The sheriff’s office is conducting alcohol compliance checks in Tulsa County, after receiving a grant from the “2 Much 2 Lose” program. The grant money is paying for extra shifts for deputies.
“A young lady came through our registers and tried to buy alcohol,” says store clerk Katherine Randell. “Our cashier was under the age of 18 so he couldn’t sell it, so we called me over and I was just checking her ID and she didn’t turn 21 until 2023 so obviously I could not sell the alcohol to her.”
During these checks, a uniformed deputy and plain-clothes deputy — like Hill on this ride-along — take a volunteer who is under the age of 21 into an establishment and have them try to buy alcohol with their ID.
“It’s up to the clerk or the server or bartender to check said ID,” Hill says.
If the establishment does sell to the underage volunteer, the server or store clerk will get a citation, along with the establishment. If they don’t sell, they’ll get a certificate from the sheriff’s officer, showing they are in compliance with Oklahoma law, and they passed the test.
“I passed, been in the business for a very long time, so some of them are easy to get but always better to be safe than sorry — check those IDs,” says liquor store clerk Jacob Roelofsen.
“Even if they look over 21 we have to scan your ID regardless of age, if you’re a regular, it does not matter — ID every time, and we scan it every time,” says Kum & Go clerk, Corrine Buchanan.
While we rode along, most businesses didn’t sell alcohol to the underage volunteer, but there was one business that received a warning. Hill says this program isn’t about targeting local businesses. It’s about educating and keeping young people safe.
“We are trying to do is break the cycle and keep them from getting hooked on alcohol at a young age, or at any age,” Hill says.
The campaign runs through June. The sheriff’s office hopes to get more funding and continue the program after June.
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