Tempe Police, Mill Avenue District bars work to discourage use of fake IDs

Tempe Police collected 2,247 fake identification cards in 2011 from the Mill Avenue District bars in an effort to minimalize underage drinking, according to a February Tempe Police press release.

The Mill Avenue bars and Tempe Police have been keeping track of their confiscated IDs since Jan. 1, 2009, Tempe Police Officer Derek Pittam said.

The annual ID count was established to prevent crime and create competition among the bars to enforce strict underage drinking policies.

The bouncers and bartenders of the bars seized 2,138 IDs, and 109 IDs were confiscated through police investigation, Pittam said.

Bar managers at Zuma Grill, School of Rock and Mill Cue Club Billiards Bar said they collect an average of 10 fake IDs per weekend.

Tempe Police, the businesses and the Arizona Department of Liquor and License Control work together to discuss recent trends among fake IDs such as changes in the states’ valid-issued IDs.

“The educational intelligence that goes back and forth is quite strong in that relationship,” Pittam said.

Crime Prevention officers regularly conduct training for employees of Mill Avenue District bars, Pittam said.

The majority of confiscated fake IDs are handed down from siblings or friends, Pittam said.

Police reported that many confiscated IDs in 2011 were Pennsylvania state IDs, which were forged in China and smuggled to the U.S.

Zuma Grill was one of the top three bars to collect fake IDs in 2010, along with Cue Club and Vintage Lounge and Grill, according to the release.

Zuma Grill manager Melissa Harrigan said she and the staff pride themselves on having a strict policy.

“I would hope that because of that … people aren’t trying to use as many (fake IDs) because I know we’ve always been very hard on our fake ID policy,” she said.

Cue Club collected 403 fake IDs last year — the most in 2011. School of Rock confiscated 392 and Canteen Tequila Bar had 328, Pittam said.

People often resort to bribing the bouncer with money to get their fake ID back, Harrigan said.

“There are people who will be all like ‘Hey, man, I’ll give you 40 bucks to give that back,’ and you know it’s not worth their job,” she said. “These door guys aren’t risking their jobs for $10.”

Zach Glennie, a bouncer at Cue Club, said typically minors attempting to enter often seem nervous while avoiding eye contact and may even become confrontational.

Glennie said the bouncing staff can misjudge a valid ID for being fake, which usually causes frustration among the cardholders.

“Every other weekend or so we’ll get (an ID that is) either really tore up (or) you can’t tell it’s them,” Glennie said.

When a mistake in judgment occurs, Tempe Police are often called to verify the ID is valid, Pittam said.

Police then explain to the customer that the bouncer is taking caution on behalf of the business.

“Our main goal is to try and make sure there’s no ill will in that frustration,” Pittam said.

School of Rock manager and ASU alumnus Lars Havens said underage drinking can lead to a variety of consequences for both patrons and businesses.

“You can close down a business — which for us would (mean) 80 people losing their jobs,” Havens said.

Biological sciences sophomore Elliot Foyt, 19, said he doesn’t think underage drinking warrants the consequences it currently receives.

“I come from a family in a region where drinking is all right at 16,” Foyt said. “We’d go out to dinner and drink a beer.”

Foyt also said he believes drinking should be legal at the age of adulthood.

“It’s never been a big deal,” he said. “I think a fake ID is just means to get around a stupid law.”

Havens said nothing positive can come from minors drinking in bars.

He said if a group of six minors were to get drunk and drive home, that’s six people who may die or become critically injured.

“That’s just a tragedy all the way around,” Havens said. “With age comes responsibility (and) you learn things through maturity.”


Reach the reporters at sraymund@asu.edu and kmmandev@asu.edu



Click here to subscribe to the daily State Press newsletter.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.