Fort Lauderdale, FL — Starting today, thanks to a partnership program called Cops in Shops®, Florida teens will find it tougher than ever to buy alcohol. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-20); Captain Pat Roberts, Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco; Louis DeFalco, Director of Safety and Security, ABC Fine Wine and Spirits; Keith Andersen, Chairman of Florida Retail Beverage Council; ##, Broward County Sheriff’s Office; and Detective Bill Spodnick, Fort Lauderdale Police Department; joined Shannon Adams of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a not-for-profit organization funded by America’s leading distillers including Florida-based Bacardi U.S.A., to launch the Cops in Shops® program at an event held today at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits on North Federal Highway.
“As you can imagine, Spring Break is a time of great celebration in Florida, but too often alcohol is a part of that celebration among youth under 21 and that can have serious consequences,” said Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz. “Since 1982, underage drinking among high school seniors nationally has declined 33% proportionally from 70% in 1982 to 47% in 2005, according to government surveys. These figures emphasize the fact that a prevention campaign such as Cops in Shops® would go a long way to enhance our existing efforts aimed at reducing and preventing underage drinking.”
“Protecting the safety, particularly the safety of our state’s most precious resource — our young people is a top priority for our Department,” said Captain Roberts. “To effectively fight underage drinking, I think we too need to be creative — and The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s Cops in Shops® program is an excellent example of a clever means of fighting underage purchasing of alcohol.”
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility created Cops in Shops® as a unique partnership between retailers and law enforcement designed to deter youth under 21 from attempting to purchase alcohol and adults who purchase alcohol for minors. The program places undercover officers in participating retail locations. Often one undercover officer works inside the store while a second officer is positioned outside the establishment to apprehend adults who
procure alcohol for youth. Cops in Shops® places the focus on the perpetrators — minors who try to purchase alcohol illegally.
“Cops in Shops® materials will be given to participating establishments here in Fort Lauderdale to reinforce the message that we take this issue very seriously,” said Louis DeFalco. “It takes an entire community to fight underage purchasing and I am optimistic that the Cops in Shops® program will be extremely effective.”
“Last year in Florida, there were 1,222 alcohol-related traffic fatalities, 163 of which were among youth under the age of 21,” said Keith Andersen. “That is far too many young lives lost. I hope that this program will be another positive step forward in our ongoing battle to keep our youth safe and alcohol-free.”
## added, “Last year in Florida, 480 youth under the age of 18 were arrested for driving under the influence and 1,419 were arrested for liquor law violations. A liquor law violation is a serious offense for a young person, regardless of whether they are driving or not. We have tough laws in Fort Lauderdale — and - we enforce them!”
“What young people will not know is when. It could be any time, at any place,” said Detective Spodnick. “Our advice is: Don’t risk it. A liquor law violation is a serious offense for a young person, regardless of whether they are driving or not.”
“As the community welcomes students from across the country to celebrate Spring Break, there could not be a more opportune time for us to remind young people that underage drinking is against the law,” said Shannon Adams. We are thankful that our partners joined us today to launch Cops in Shops® in Fort Lauderdale.”
Participating retail establishments will display signs in their establishments with the message, “Under 21? Police Officers May Be Posing As Store Employees,” Cops in Shops® display materials are provided free-of-charge by The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. In addition to the point-of-sale materials, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility provides “how-to” manuals and organizational assistance. Over 42 states including Texas, California, Virginia, New Jersey, Oregon, Nebraska, and Kentucky have participated in, or are currently using, the Cops in Shops® program.
Launched in 1991, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is funded by America's leading distillers. The Foundation's mission is to promote responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol and discourage all forms of irresponsible consumption through education, communications, research, law enforcement and other programs. For more information on the Foundation, log onto www.responsibility.org