Cambridge, MA — As students head back to school, thanks to a partnership program called Cops in Shops®, Massachusetts teens will find it tougher than ever to buy alcohol. Richard Scali, Chairman, Cambridge Licensing Commission; Tim McCusker, Deputy Superintendent, Cambridge Police Department; Frank Connelly, Cambridge Prevention Coalition and Treasurer of Cambridge Licensee Advisory Board; Paul DeRuzzo, Owner, University Wine Shop; and Bob Buckley, President, Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of Massachusetts; joined Jay Hibbard of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a not-for-profit organization funded by America’s leading distillers, to launch the Cops in Shops® program at an event held today at the University Wine Shop at 1739 Massachusetts Avenue.
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.
“Local retail establishments will work in cooperation with local enforcement agents who will be stationed inside and outside select stores. What young people will not know is when. It could be any time, at any place. 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,” said Deputy Superintendent McCusker.
“Underage youth are, unfortunately, able to access alcohol. Last year in Massachusetts, there were 49 alcohol- related traffic fatalities among youth under 21, an increase of 32.4% from 2002. According to the 2003 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (SAMHSA), 21% of twelve to seventeen year olds reported past month alcohol consumption in Massachusetts, a decrease of 4.1% since 2000. We all need to work together to reduce underage drinking,” said Connelly.
Richard Scali added his support to the program by saying, “Businesses play an important role in the community effort to stop underage drinking. We must work collaboratively to reach everyone who has a role in fighting this critical problem. I believe implementing the Cops in Shops® will not only deter underage youth from purchasing alcohol illegally, but will deter adults who intend to purchase alcohol for minors.”
“As the community welcomes students back to school, there could not be a more opportune time for us to remind young people that underage drinking is illegal,” said Hibbard. “The Cops in Shops® program is a proven program aimed at deterring and preventing minors from attempting to purchase alcohol. In addition to undercover agents, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has distributed television public service announcements (PSAs) to television stations in the Boston area. We hope these stations assist us in our fight against underage purchasing; we encourage the stations to air these PSAs to create a deterrent effect — we do not want underage youth attempting to buy alcohol.”
“I am proud that my store, the University Wine Shop, could host today’s Cops in Shops® launch in Cambridge. It takes an entire community to fight underage purchasing and I am optimistic that the Cops in Shops® program will be extremely effective,” said DeRuzzo.
Robert Buckley added, “Underage drinking is against the law in Massachusetts. Period. The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of Massachusetts commend Cambridge law enforcement for their participation in the Cops in Shops® program in the midst of our statewide effort to fight underage drinking. As responsible businesspeople, we will do everything we can to encourage parents to communicate with their teens about the dangers of underage drinking.”
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