POINT PLEASANT BEACH – On Tuesday, Attorney General Anne Milgram announced a comprehensive law enforcement and public awareness effort by the Divisions of Alcoholic Beverage Control and Highway Traffic Safety to combat underage drinking in Jersey Shore resort areas this summer.
“Alcohol can have devastating effects on today’s youth,” Milgram said. “The collaborative effort of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety shows the state’s continued commitment to curbing underage drinking.”
Alcoholic Beverage Control Division Director Jerry Fischer added, “This year, more towns than ever are joining our campaign to keep alcohol out of the hands of young people. It’s through a combination of public vigilance, parental involvement and law enforcement actions that we can strive to stop underage drinking before it begins.”
Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer stressed the potentially fatal consequences of underage drinking and driving. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death nationwide for young people between the ages of 15 and 20.
“In New Jersey, 30,448 individuals were arrested in 2007 for drunk driving, and 3,020 of those people charged with DWI were under the age of 21,” she said. “Young drivers face many risks every time they get behind the wheel. Adding alcohol to that already potentially deadly equation can only result in tragedies for teen drivers and all who share the road with them,” Fischer said.
This summer, 30 shore municipalities are participating in the “Cops in Shops” program, with approximately $61,000 in funding provided by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
“Cops in Shops” is a program designed by the Century Council, a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers. Under the program, local police officers work undercover in participating retail locations. Law enforcement officials either pose as store employees or are positioned outside the establishment to apprehend adults who attempt to purchase alcohol for underage drinkers.
The following towns are participating in the 2009 “Cops in Shops” summer program:
Atlantic County: Absecon, Egg Harbor Township, and Margate; Cape May County: Avalon, Cape May, Lower Township, Middle Township, North Wildwood, Sea Isle City, and Wildwood; Monmouth County: Belmar, Holmdel, Lake Como, Neptune, Ocean Township; Ocean County: Barnegat Township, Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Lakehurst, Lakewood, Lavallette Boro, Long Beach Township, Manchester Township, Ocean Township, Pt. Pleasant Beach, Pt. Pleasant Borough, Seaside Heights, Ship Bottom, Stafford Township, and Toms River.
In addition, 24 police departments, as well as the Gloucester County and Salem County Prosecutors’ Offices, are running year-round “Cops in Shops” programs beginning this summer, using funding provided by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Several of these towns will also participate in undercover operations:
Atlantic County: Atlantic City (C), Buena Borough (C/U); Bergen County: Closter Borough (C), Fair Lawn (C); Burlington County: Burlington Township (C/U), Evesham (C), and Medford (C); Cumberland County: Vineland (C/U) Essex County: Belleville (U), Newark (C) and West Orange (C); Gloucester County: Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office (C); Hudson County: Bayonne (C), Harrison (C/U), and Jersey City (U); Mercer County: Ewing (C) and Lawrence Township (C); Middlesex County: East Brunswick (C) and Metuchen (U); Monmouth County: Middletown (C) and Red Bank (C); Ocean County: Brick Township (C/U); Salem County: Salem County Prosecutor’s Office (C); Somerset County: Hillsborough (C); Union County: Westfield (C) Warren County: Greenwich Police Department (C).
(C) Denotes enforcement agencies that are participating in Cops in Shops and (U) denotes enforcement agencies participating in Undercover Operations. Those with (C/U) are participating in both.
Since its inception in 1996, more than 7,750 underage persons and adults have been arrested in New Jersey as a result of the “Cops in Shops” initiative. Underage drinkers face penalties that include arrest, a minimum fine of $500 and a loss of driver’s license for six months.
“The Century Council is pleased to continue our efforts with the New Jersey ABC, and we are honored that our ‘Cops in Shops’ program remains an integral part of this campaign,” said Ron Engle, director of traffic safety at the Century Council. “Every summer, the State of New Jersey sends a very clear message to youth under 21 – if you’re too young to buy, don’t even try.’’
Additional efforts to combat underage drinking include public service announcements – on radio and TV, as well as a calendar/billboard contest for students:
“Proms and Alcohol Don’t Mix” TV PSA. Now in its third year, the “Proms and Alcohol Don’t Mix” initiative invites high school students to create a 30-second TV public service announcement. The initiative was started to open a dialogue among students and their teachers about the effects drinking can have on their prom experience.
This year, two winning entries were chosen: Arielle Russo, Krysta Cullen, Dan Tomansky, and Matthew Hills from Emerson Junior-Senior High School and Talia Arochas and Eden Aroshas from Eastern Senior High School in Voorhees. The PSAs, which are being aired on local cable stations around New Jersey, can also be found online at http://www.nj.gov/oag/abc/annual-psa-contest.html.
The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control continued its cooperation with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey this year to educate young people about the dangers of underage drinking.
“The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey is once again pleased to work with the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to help get important and life saving underage drinking prevention messages out to the residents of New Jersey through billboard images created by middle school students, which utilize peer-to-peer prevention messages, as well as radio Public Service Announcements to New Jersey parents which bring to light the pressures of underage drinking as experienced by middle school students,” Angelo Valente, the Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey said. “It is only by working together that we can get these important messages out and help stem the tide of underage drinking in New Jersey.”
The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey paired up to sponsor two initiatives:
“Listen-Up to the Dangers of Underage Drinking” Radio PSA Program. Aimed at middle school students, the “Listen-Up” program challenged young people to create a script for a 30-second radio public service announcement that talked directly to parents about the dangers of underage alcohol use. The winning students produced and starred in the radio spots, which were produced in English and in Spanish, and will be distributed to stations in the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia media market.
This year, two winning English scripts were selected. Joe Scardilli, a fifth-grader from the Frank K. Hehnly School in Clark, wrote one script and Karen Martinez, Shivali Govani, Mikhaela Jean Leeho and Lynette DeLeon, all seventh graders at the Perth Amboy Upper School, wrote the other. The Perth Amboy Upper School’s entry will also be translated into Spanish. The students participated in the recording of the radio spots.
“Dangers of Underage Drinking” Billboard/Calendar Competition. This statewide initiative is designed to encourage middle school students and their parents to work together to create billboard/calendar messages with the theme “Dangers of Underage Drinking.”
Thirteen winning messages will be featured on a calendar to be distributed to middle schools at the start of the 2010 calendar year. One message will be featured each month, and the grand-prize winning message will be displayed on the calendar’s front cover. Additionally, the grand-prize winning message will be reproduced on highway billboards throughout the state.
The grand prize winner is listed below with the finalists and their schools:
Grand Prize Winner: Jenna Aimes from Howell Middle School South in Howell, Monmouth County
Finalists: Shelby Carr, Amanda Resto, Emely DeJesus, Joshua Adkins and Nicole Fruehwirth from Perth Amboy Catholic School in Middlesex County; Hannah Luchs from Bogert School in Saddle River, Bergen County; Tiara Barron from Howell Middle School South; Sophia Frank from St. Joseph School in Carteret, Middlesex County; Maria Gomez from Dr. Michael Conti School PS #5 in Jersey City, Hudson County; Pooja Patel from Kawameeh Middle School in Union, Union County; and Liza Rassaelkina of Crossroads Middle School in Monmouth Junction, Middlesex County.
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