SANFORD — Police Chief Thomas Connolly said stores that sell liquor should send employees to upcoming alcohol seller and server training programs after compliance checks late last month found four stores sold booze to minors.

The compliance checks are conducted twice a year.

On Jan. 31, an individual under the legal age of 21, working undercover with police, approached 13 establishments and attempted to buy alcohol. According to Connolly, four businesses ”“ Shaw’s Supermarket, Rite Aid, Circle K and Lil Mart ”“ were in violation, and were issued notices of administrative violation that are forwarded to the state’s liquor licensing unit of the Department of Public Safety. First-time offenders face a fine of up to $1,800, Connolly said.

“I am a little surprised that we found four establishments that illegally sold alcohol to minors,” the police chief said. “The Sanford Police conduct compliance checks at least twice a year, and we advertise the names of those businesses that violate the law.”

Police in Portland conducted similar compliance checks late last week, visiting restaurants as well as stores. Of the 56 checks made in Portland, eight establishments were cited for selling alcohol to minors, according to an Associated Press story.

Sanford Deputy Police Chief Tim Strout, in a prepared statement, said the checks are conducted to make sure licensed establishments are complying with state law. He said the checks also assist businesses in identifying employees who can benefit from the free training offered by the Sanford Strong Coalition and Partners for Healthier Communities at Southern Maine Health Care.

Connolly said clerks should ask for identification ”“ and read it. He pointed out during similar compliance checks a few years ago, one store was cited twice in the same evening. The same clerk had sold alcohol to a minor, and then two hours later, did so again.

“Aggressively enforcing the laws regarding minors possessing alcohol will reduce the number of alcohol-related injuries and deaths that occur too often when our youth consume alcohol,” Connolly said in the statement. “Every establishment that sells alcohol should have their employees trained at the next alcohol seller and server training course to reduce the possibility of future violations.”

The next Responsible Alcohol Seller Training for off-premises licensees will be held Thursday, March 5 from noon to 4 p.m. at Sanford Police Station, 935 Main St. To register, call Nichole Ivey at 603-767-0253 or email [email protected]

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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