By Abby Reed
MIDLAND - Thanks to a new $15,000 grant from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Midland Police are cracking down on underage drinking.
The department has invested in special breathalyzers and beer goggles to help educate teens. They're also performing undercover sting operations where officers use people who look like minors and send them into local businesses.
"(We) send them into restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores and allow them to make an attempt to purchase alcohol," Sgt. Darin Clements with the Midland Police Department, said.
The department has conducted three sting operations as of late; the most recent was last week. Among the 18 stores targeted, only two sold to minors.
"Most of the 7-11's passed, one of them didn't. Same with the Stripes stores, some of them passed, one of them didn't," Clements said.
One chain that stood out with passing grades during the recent sting were local Kent Kwik stores.
"We have zero tolerance, that is immediate termination," Melissa Martinez, the training director for Kent Kwik, said.
Martinez trains all of the cashiers who work for Kent Kwik and says alcohol awareness is a big part of the job.
"The first thing we talk about is alcohol sales," Martinez said. "I keep stressing to them that they will be terminated, and there will be up to a $500 fine if you get caught selling alcohol to a minor."
Martinez, who is also a mother, says she welcomes undercover stings in her stores. She says it offers a sense of accountability, while also keeping her community safe.
"We all have families, people we care about, and I would not want anybody selling to my minors. So, I think it's a good thing that they are doing that. I don't think it's negative in any way," Martinez said.