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Longmeadow Police Department receives $5,000 grant to target underage drinking

Date: 11/13/2014

LONGMEADOW – The Police Department was recently was awarded a $5,000 grant to target underage drinking from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security's Highway Safety Division (EOPSS/HSD) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

“This much needed funding helps us target the problem of underage drinking on all fronts,” Police Sgt. Andrew Fullerton said. “Whether you are underage, plan to sell to a minor, or buy alcohol for a minor, this funding promotes our effort to diligently enforce the laws against underage drinking.”

The grant will support surveillance patrols, compliance checks for minors in restaurants, bars, and retail locations, as well as officers patrolling parties, he added.

A total of $505,000 in funding from the EOPSS, HSD, and NHTSA were awarded to 71 communities throughout the Commonwealth. Each community received funds ranging from $4,200 to $15,000.

Officers conducted undercover patrols on Oct. 31 and Nov. 7, Fullerton said. There were no underage drinking arrests on either of those dates. However, one person was caught smoking marijuana and a citation was issued.

“One of our biggest problems is in the spring around prom season and graduation,” he added. 

Additional officers would likely be hired as security at parties during the spring, he Fullerton explained.

“We could have officers working in the packages stores, pretending to be clerks [and] checking IDs,” he said. “We [might] do that.”

According to the NHTSA, 28 percent of underage drivers killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration of .01 or higher based on national findings in 2012.

From 2007 to 2011, violations for underage drinking has decreased 41.5 percent in the Commonwealth. Arrests of drivers under 18 years old for operating under the influence has also dropped by 45.4 percent from 2006 to 2010.

“Teens and parents need to be reminded that underage drinking is not a game,” Fullerton said. “Parents need to know that hosting a party where alcohol is served to minors is illegal and extremely dangerous for young people and the entire community.”

Fullerton said School Resource Officer Pam Chaplin and Longmeadow High School Health Teacher Meaghan Roy have been teaching programs to students about the effects of alcohol on the human body.

“If [Chaplin] needs some extra assistance, maybe some of that money will hire another officer to go and help her teach classes if need be,” he added.

The grant was awarded on Oct. 1 and ends on the same date next year, Fullerton stated.

“I would say our problem isn’t any bigger than any other town,” he added. “I think it’s a problem across all communities.”