Last weekend, Newport Beach Police went out to bars and restaurants in the Newport Beach area with an underage officer and attempted to buy alcohol. Contrary to the main article photo, these officers don’t exactly look “underage”– here’s a photo of one of them on the sting:
They went places like China Palace, Gina’s Pizza, and Rudy’s, ordered alcohol, and then doled out citations. They also went to bonafide bars such as the Class of 47 and Balboa Saloon– but those establishments passed with flying colors. They also attempted to have underage people buy alcohol from the 7-11, Bal-Port Liquors, and Sportsman’s– all of which they failed to fool the merchants. Malarky’s also stood out as a success in identifying the 20 year old police who were attempting to illegally purchase alcohol.
Despite longstanding laws against entrapment, in 1994, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that use of underage decoys for entrapment is valid law enforcement tool, so the NBPD grabbed $48,191 from state taxpayer funds and began targeting our alcohol-serving establishments.
You may remember that in March of 2015, Mayor Diane Dixon attempted to shut down all bars at 11pm on Balboa Peninsula during a debacle widely known as “Lights out at 11pm”. When it came to light that she was going to attempt to do this through seizing private property rights from building owners, the council turned against her. Instead, she tripled the police force on Balboa Peninsula during the lowest crime rate period in the history of the city— that was her “path to victory”.
Each new officer costs taxpayers $200k/year in direct costs, and calculating out pension costs, each position in reality costs $560k/year (with two officers being retired for every one serving). As heroin use surges in our school system, we will be paying an additional $2,240,000 for four positions on Balboa Peninsula to write skateboarding tickets and citations to adults without bicycle lights.
As pension costs have Newport on-track to hit a downward financial spiral in just 8 years– increasing policing to the tune of $2.2m+/year to ticket grown adults on bicycles seems a bit absurd. Furthermore, spending taxpayer dollars to entrap local businesses when there are real problems with hard drugs in our schools sounds like colossally misspent resources.
Here’s what the NBPD under Diane Dixon says you can expect going forward as they spend taxpayer money scaring customers and assaulting businesses:
– Increased attempts to trick servers into serving underage police (NOTE: These police don’t exactly look under-age, either)
– “Shoulder tap” operations where undercover underage police ask adults to buy them booze outside of convenience stores (editors note: this is how I used to get beer when I was underage. We called it “Hey Mister”. We all lived through it.)
– Increased “inspections” of our historic establishments
In the past, NBPD has entered alcohol-serving establishments in uniform and approached patrons asking if they would like to take a breathalyzer test.
All this, for what? There have been absolutely ZERO causal links between our alcohol-serving establishments and any notable increase in crime for the last 100 years. While I am certain that people who have been drinking do in fact commit crime, it has never registered as anything other than occasional correlation– never causation– on Newport Beach’s crime stats. A note: Newport Beach has had the lowest crime rate years for 3 years in a row, so this crackdown on our local businesses has nothing to do with any reality of a crime surge, and has everything to do with the people in political power deciding how to spend our tax dollars. They are choosing– from their own opinion of reality– that “cracking down” on bicycles, skateboarders, or the occasional 20 year old being served alcohol is worth several millions of dollars per year, but there has been no money spent and not even a public stance taken on the increasing problem with heroin in our school system.
If we want to prevent things that actually cause harm to our children, let’s focus on that. All of this attention to establishments who have no statistical link to crime is nothing but a personal crusade by an out-of-touch councilwoman who moved here just six months before deciding to run for office.
Prohibition is over. Get a grip.