According to school safety officials, there has been an 800 percent rise in fake ID citations since the opening of the USC Village.
Department of Public Safety Commanding Officer Edgar Palmer said that DPS has been citing underage students who purchase alcohol illegally with fake IDs in the USC Village. Since the fall semester began, 31 students have been cited for fake ID use, according to DPS logs. Palmer says the citations are given outside of stores like Target or Trader Joes.
"Target and Trader Joe's are on university property," said Palmer in an interview. "We are looking at these entities to make sure students are not purchasing alcohol underage."
"We've found that these establishments don't have the proper scanning devices to detect fake IDs," said Palmer.
Palmer explained that he believes some stores are unwilling to share the responsibility of enforcing the laws regarding fake ID use.
"Target is fully willing to let DPS be the bad guys and not take responsibility," said Palmer.
Trader Joe's and Target in the University Village did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Some USC students are unhappy with DPS stopping customers outside of stores in the USC village, saying they don't have proper cause for search. "If I am not showing any signs of suspicious activity," said Caroline Smith, a USC sophomore, in an interview. "I don't think they have a right to ask me for my ID."
Palmer explained that he does not support this strategy of citing students post-purchase.
"I've asked officers to scale back on that. I don't want that type of invasion of privacy of stopping people with a Trader Joe's bag," he said.
In response to the 800 percent increase, Palmer said that there is a larger influx of students with fake IDs. "It seems like everyone has one. Not just one, but several," said Palmer.
It's been rumored on campus that a fake ID citation may bar students from some study abroad programs. "SJACS does adjudicate these incidents on a case by case basis," said Ainsley Carry, Vice President for Student Affairs. "Individual study abroad programs make determinations on what violations warrant restrictions from traveling abroad."
If students are found using a fake ID at popular off-campus establishments like the 901 Bar and Grill or Banditos, they are cited by the LAPD. According to Palmer, these citations are misdemeanors and students can face fines up to $3,000.
For Palmer, when it comes to fake IDs, "safety is the bottom line. Our mission is to keep kids safe."