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    Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. C-stores Latest to Put Cops in Shops

    Program seeks to deter underage drinking; also helps with other illegal activity.

    NEW YORK -- The next time any Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. teenagers look to score some beer at their local convenience store, a police officer may be hanging out next to the slushy machine.

    Beginning Aug. 29, Fort Oglethorpe Police officers will go undercover in stores around town, posing as customers and convenience store workers as part of the national Cops in Shops program, according to a report in the Catoosa County (Ga.) News.

    CIS is featured in more than 40 states and is funded by the Century Council, a non-profit organization dedicated to curbing underage drinking. The council is made up of several national distillers.

    "Minors attempting to illegally purchase alcohol is a problem across the country and Fort Oglethorpe is no exception," said Fort Oglethorpe Police officer Mark Cruise, program coordinator. "We want young people to know this is in operation and think twice about the consequences before attempting to purchase alcohol," according to the Catoosa County News report.

    According to state law, the penalty for anyone under 21 trying to purchase alcohol with a false ID or adults buying alcohol for minors is up to six months in jail and a $300 fine.

    Cruise said offenders would be arrested on the spot, according to the report.

    The officer said 12 Fort Oglethorpe convenience stores are participating in the program. He said store windows would display signs stating they are part of the program as an added warning.

    "We want them to know we mean business. If they try to buy they're going to jail," he said. "We would like constant offenders to say, 'Hey, I can't do that in Fort Oglethorpe,'" the report said.

    Allen Cochren, assistant manager of the Golden Gallon at 3095 Battlefield Parkway, said he was in the store several weeks ago when officer Cruise performed a trial run of the program, according to the report.

    He said he likes the added security, and his store is glad to join the effort in fighting underage drinking.
    Cruise said the program will also discourage many other crimes that are common to convenience stores, such as gasoline theft and shoplifting, the report said.

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