CPD hoping to curb underage drinking in Five Points

Underage drinking is not a new problem in Columbia's Five Points, but police officers have been targeting the area in an effort to curb crime and help prevent potentially violent and deadly crimes from happening.

Officer Tyson Haas and Gregory Schropshire are a part of the police department's efforts.

"It's not about getting out catching people because it's fun for me," Haas said. "It's about keeping people safe."

The duo hit three bars in Five Points on Friday night. They didn't catch anyone for underage drinking until the final bar, when three people came out in handcuffs.

"I think that's almost worse than the monetary fine or even the prospect of going to jail is the embarrassment," Haas said.

Those that are arrested are taken to a command post at a nearby gas station where officers write them tickets and in some cases -- take them to jail.

Over the last year police officers have seen underage drinking fluctuate. With ramped up efforts, they're making more arrests. But with more cops going inside bars, owners worry their "legal" customers may leave.

"The whole philosophy is to deter the behavior, curb that behavior that's what we want to do," Deputy Chief Ruben Santiago said.

Santiago says they're trying to stop the problem before it spills out into the streets.

"What we try to do is before they get to the intoxicated part and become a victim that we go into the bars and find out the root of the issue, try to do as much as we can to educate the business as well as doing a better job of checking IDs," Santiago said.

CPD doesn't want to hurt business, but they say safety comes first.

"When you talk about underage drinking it's not always the bars' fault, it's the person in there who's in there who wishes to take advantage of the bar."