BELMAR – Attorney General Paula T. Dow today joined with state, county and local law enforcement officials to announce 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.
“Today I am calling on our law enforcement partners and those people in the alcoholic beverage industry to help us combat rampant underage drinking by cracking down on fake IDs,” Dow said. “Far too many young people use this fraudulent document as a gateway to obtain alcohol illegally.”
Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Jerry Fischer added, “Through its law enforcement efforts and its public awareness initiatives, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control continues to send a strong message that underage drinking can have not just legal ramifications, but also life-changing consequences that affect the drinker and all of the people whose lives the drinker may shatter.”
Scores of law enforcement personnel and alcoholic beverage representatives joined with the Attorney General at a late morning press conference held at the Taylor Pavilion in Belmar.
Division of Highway Traffic Safety Acting Director Gary Poedubicky stressed the potentially fatal consequences of underage drinking and driving.
“While we continue to make steady progress in our fight to keep drunk drivers off of our roads, we still have a long way to go if we are to ensure that all drivers remain safe,” Acting Director Poedubicky said. “In 2009, nearly 28,000 individuals were arrested in New Jersey for driving while intoxicated, and of those charged, nearly 3,000 were under the age of 21.”
Diane Weiss, Executive Director of the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association (NJLBA), which is comprised of bar, tavern and restaurant owners throughout New Jersey, stated that the association strongly supports the efforts announced today to combat underage drinking.
“The members of the NJLBA are committed to the safe and responsible use of alcohol by those 21 years of age and older,” Weiss said. “However, for those who are underage and may be thinking about using fraudulent identification to purchase or consume alcohol this summer, our message is clear: We will not tolerate this behavior in our licensed establishments. Our members participate in server training programs that provide them with the necessary tools to identify those under the legal drinking age, and they will be on the lookout this summer and throughout the year, to stop underage drinkers from entering their establishments.”
Efforts to keep people from underage drinking include a combination of law enforcement initiatives and public outreach programs:
Law enforcement efforts:
Cops in Shops
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 New Jersey Cops in Shops program is recognized nationally as a successful program.
Last summer, 230 people were arrested through the Cops in Shops summer program. This summer, 30 Shore police departments are participating in the Cops in Shops program, with approximately $61,000 in funding provided by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
In addition, 22 police departments, as well as the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, are running year-round Cops in Shops programs beginning this summer, using funding provided by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control also administers the Cops in Shops College-Fall Initiative. The College-Fall Initiative grant is available to police departments in New Jersey with a college or university either within its borders or in a neighboring community and is aimed at keeping anyone under the age of 21 from drinking alcohol. This program runs from November through June.
The lists of the towns participating in each Cops in Shop program can be found following the press release. Funding for this effort is provided by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
Since its inception in 1996, more than 9,000 underage persons and adults have been arrested in New Jersey as a result of the Cops in Shops initiative.
“New Jersey’s efforts to combat underage drinking and in particular the Summer Shore Initiative are the gold standard on how to successfully conduct a Cops in Shops program,” said Century Council Traffic Safety Director Ron Engle. “The Century Council, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, is proud of its long standing relationship with the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety which includes the New Jersey Divisions of Alcoholic Beverage Control and Highway Traffic Safety.”
Public Outreach Efforts:
“Proms and Alcohol Don’t Mix” PSA Contest: The “Proms and Alcohol Don’t Mix” PSA contest, funded by a grant provided by the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, asked high school seniors to create scripts for a 30-second television public service announcement. The statewide contest was designed to increase awareness about the dangers of underage drinking, particularly during prom and graduation season. The winning script was produced into a public service announcement which aired on cable stations throughout New Jersey between April and June. This year’s winning script was written by Kimberly Etzin, Angela DePaola, Allison Lotito, Alexandria Sprenger and Taylor Sisti, high school seniors at Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, Bergen County.
The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control continues its cooperation with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey to educate young people about the dangers of underage drinking.
“Underage drinking by our children continues to be a serious and alarming issue in our state,” Angelo Valente, Executive Director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey said. “The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) is pleased to be collaborating with the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to address this problem, and get the message out around our state about the Dangers of Underage Drinking. With these two initiatives, PDFNJ is utilizing the two most impactful prevention strategies, peer to peer messaging and the role of parents in prevention.”
The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey paired up to sponsor two initiatives that were funded through a grant provided by the federal grant that also funds the year-round Cops in Shops program.
“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 will be distributed to stations in the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia media market. One of this year’s winning scripts was written by Abbie Horan, Christina Hyland, Meaghan Ferguson, Shannon Keller, Ashlyn Doherty, Michelle Julich, Dana Demnitz, 8th grade students at Borough School in Morris Plains. The other winning script was written by Ashlyn Doherty, Michelle Julich, Dana Demnitz and Cayley Blenner, also of Borough School in Morris Plains.
“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 2012 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:
Grand Prize: Melissa Gonzalez of Perth Amboy.
Finalists: Sarina Rodriguez, Melissa Ayllon, and Xavier Messado, all of Perth Amboy; Veronica Behman, Gabriella Carnevale, Melina Mejia, and Sofia Molina, all of Carteret; Olivia Carlino and Brianna Limongello of Belford, Teagan Monaco of Summit, Paolo Matti of Union and Michelle Xu of Mount Laurel.
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