Operations shoulder tap keeps kids safe

Published 12:39 am Sunday, October 1, 2006

Concerned parents’ calls about their teenagers gaining access to alcohol and tobacco prompted the Picayune Police Department to take action with help from the Mississippi Attorney General’s office.

Numerous calls to the department about their 17 or 18 year-old children coming home drunk were received at the police department, Deputy Chief Tom Milar said. Since the children were too young to buy alcohol, someone else must have been buying the alcohol for them, Milar said.

The department then decided to call the Attorney General’s Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement, which provided the money and the juvenile agent for Operation Shoulder Tap. The two departments met and set up at quick stops on Sept. 6 at about 6 p.m. where the juvenile agent would inform adults that he was unable to buy alcohol or tobacco because of his age. The juvenile agent would then wait to see if the adult would offer to purchase the alcohol or tobacco for him, Ervin said.

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“We had the Attorney General Task Force’s full cooperation and we thank them very much for assisting us with that operation,” Ervin said.

If the adult agreed by going into the quick stop and purchasing the alcohol, the task force would move in and make an arrest, Ervin said.

“In every case there was no doubt that they were minors,” Police Chief Jim Luke said.

These kind of operations will be conducted periodically to ensure that juveniles can not obtain alcohol or tobacco, Ervin said.

“We’re very much involved in the community and their needs, and when a complaint is registered with us, we take the necessary action to correct the problem,” Ervin said.

The investigation lead to the arrest of seven suspects including Phillip Mark Sutherland, 18, 201 Grace Dr.; David Poticher, 37, 2010 Amelia St.; James H. Agnew Jr., 35, Route 3, Box 417-A; Terrence T. McNair, 21, 603 S. Blanks Ave.; Ivan Macauley Seal, 51, 289 Dennis Bailey Rd.; John Howard Green, 25, 701 Simmons St. and Derrick Paul Miller, 23, 126 Lee St.

All suspects were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, by purchasing alcohol and/or tobacco for a juvenile, according to a press release from the department.

Chief Luke stated in that press release, “We are taking a strong stance against those who supply alcohol and/or tobacco to children in our community. We will continue to use innovative operations in Picayune to enforce state laws on sale of alcohol and/or tobacco. Also, we want to thank State Attorney General Jim Hood, for his partnership with Picayune Police Department in this enforcement effort.”