'Tis the season for fake ID seizures in downtown Tempe

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Operation Safe and Sober is in full swing on the streets of Tempe. Officers are stepping up weekend patrols to crack down on underage drinking and alcohol-related offenses.

During its first week, police made more than 370 arrests, according to Sgt. Mike Pooley of the Tempe Police Department. More than 100 people were cited for minor in possession.

In addition to enforcement, officers are meeting with downtown bars to refresh them on how to spot fake IDs.

“With new fake IDs coming in from overseas, they’re very difficult to tell if they’re legit or fake,” said Tempe police Officer Robert Ferraro.

3TV tagged along as Ferraro stopped into the Mill Cue Club on Mill Avenue, considered a seasoned pro on the block.

“You led the pack in downtown bars as far as seized IDs,” Ferraro told bar manager Dennis Alexander.

The Mill Cue Club seized about 400 fakes last year. Nearly 1,800 were seized across all bars in 2012.  2,200 were seized in 2011, according to Ferraro.

Through email alerts and in-person visits, Tempe police work to keep staff informed on the latest trends.

“New York State is the prevalent one we’re seeing right now,” Ferraro said.

Employees must learn to detect subtle differences, some evident only in UV light. Ferraro said fake ID makers overseas have focused in on trying to perfect replicating IDs of certain states, including New York, Illinois, Ohio, Florida, even Hawaii.

“We retrain our people three to four times a year,” Alexander said. “Fortunately, our door hosts take huge pride in finding those fakes.”

Zachary Regier, a 21-year-old student at Arizona State University, admits he had a fake.

“I didn’t have any problems,” Regier said about getting into bars. “I won’t disclose names or places.”

However, he said the Mill Cue Club was certainly not one of those places, and he admitted a number of other Mill Avenue bars are cracking down.

“They keep finding ways to increase security; it’s definitely a big problem on campus,” Regier said.

Bar owners and police want to take a proactive approach to fighting the problem, sending a message to underage students that they take the issue seriously.

“While it seems like such a small and insignificant thing, it does have huge implications,” Ferraro said.