Students help police in sting operation

The Campbell County Police Department cited two Alexandria retail clerks and a Silver Grove bartender for selling alcohol to minors during the course of several sting operations performed in October and November.

According to Campbell County Police Chief Keith Hill, the availability of alcohol to underage college students is a growing problem in the county.

“They have to have a social outlet,” Hill said. “I don’t have a problem with them going out and enjoying themselves. My thing is I don’t want them going out and being served alcohol in Campbell County, and then because of maybe being intoxicated… a problem is caused in our community.”

In an effort to decrease this problem, Hill conducted a series of investigations at local retail stores and bars. Hill said all seven retail stores in the city of Alexandria were investigated with the help of minors working undercover. His department recruited three Northern Kentucky University students age 18 to 19 to help with these operations.

John Pape, 18, was charged with selling alcohol to a minor Oct. 23 after police said an undercover NKU student was able to purchase a six-pack of Bud Light at Parkside Carryout.

A week later, on Oct. 30, a 17-year-old clerk at County Market was charged with selling alcohol to a minor after the same sting operation was executed.

Hill said his department also identified three bars in the county that it believed may be selling alcohol to minors. These bars were chosen based on complaints from the community, previous investigations and advice from the NKU Police Department.

Maria Caudill, 38, was charged with selling alcohol to minors after police said two undercover NKU students were served beers at the Duck Creek Country Club in Silver Grove.

“I think that the bars are more of a problem just because you can get into the bar because you’re 18 years of age,” Hill said.

“You have more underage kids in a bar trying to get a drink than you would have at a packaged liquor place.”

Hill said he believes the problem is a lapse of good judgment by the vendors but doesn’t think it’s intentional.

In addition to the citations, Hill notified the Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control of these incidents via e-mail.

Sarah Messmer, a junior at NKU, said the Duck Creek Country Club is a popular spot for college students.

Messmer, who turned 21 on Nov. 23, said she believes underage drinking is a problem at NKU.

“I think underage drinking on any university campus is a problem,” NKU Police Chief Harold Todd said. “I don’t think NKU is any different than any other up-and-coming university.

“It seems like alcohol and young people go together.”

According to Todd, there have been 17 alcohol-related campus police reports since Jan. 1.

“I would say that’s only 10 to 20 percent of what actually occurs on campus,” he said.

Messmer said she also believes the numbers are much higher.

“I’d say 90 percent of people who are underage have drunk alcohol,” Messmer said.

Todd said he hopes these sting operations will reduce the likelihood of NKU students bringing alcohol on campus.

“Anything Campbell County or the local police departments do to decrease underage drinking is going to assist the students on campus,” Todd said. “We don’t want people intoxicated coming on campus.”

Hill said he believes his department’s continued efforts will aid the community’s problem of underage drinking.

“We’re going to continue to check bars on a more frequent basis – more than once a year – to make sure that they continue not to sell,” Hill said.

“Next time, they’ll think twice about it and take the right steps to make sure it doesn’t happen.”