Underage Drinking: Success Stories



Drinking: Success Stories




– February 15, 2003



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The OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative supports cooperation between community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned citizens to change local ordinances and enforcement practices.


In Mesa, The Party?s Over

Aggressive prevention and dispersal

operations in Mesa, Arizona, have led to a significant reduction in

underage drinking parties in the area. The program draws on a variety of

resources to address a major part of underage drinking in the community.

Mesa, a town of 500,000, sits just southeast of Phoenix in the Arizona

desert. The town?s geography means that underage drinking can happen in a

number of venues?in homes, in hotels, in the desert, and elsewhere.

Four years ago, officers in one of Mesa?s police districts noticed that a

large share of their calls-to-service were related to underage drinking

that had led to crime and violence?stabbings, shootings, fatal collisions,

and more. The district began devoting resources to underage drinking

prevention, which then became the city-wide Minor Alcohol Abuse Prevention

Project, or MAAPP. The MAAPP is funded in part through the Governor?s

Office of Highway Safety. Says Director Richard Fimbres, ?The Office is

always eager and willing to participate in and provide funding for

partnerships that are efficient and effective.? Deputy Director?and Mesa

native?Michael Frias agrees: ?Under age drinking is a serious problem and

this is one of the many angles we must take to alter the culture of

underage drinking.?

Lt. Brian Kozak was assigned to coordinate MAAP, and he began looking at

underage parties as a focus of drinking activity. After reading

publications from OJJDP and NHTSA on party prevention and controlled

dispersal, he implemented party patrols in MAAPP?s efforts to reduce

underage drinking.

The patrols began in earnest about 2 years ago during prom season, with

the Mesa Police Department sending out dozens of officers to patrol,

locate, and disperse underage parties. The patrols have increased in size

and frequency ever since; at least two officers are on party detail nearly

every weekend. Even the helicopter unit is involved, reporting parties as

they are spotted from the air.

The patrols have been accompanied by source investigations, media

advocacy, and education. Once a party is dispersed, the police look for

the adult provider of the alcohol, bringing charges as needed. Media play

has also been important, especially in graduation season; stories warn of

patrol activities before they begin, later explaining the results when

they are concluded. Lt. Kozak also visits schools in the area regularly,

giving presentations on the costs and consequences of underage drinking.

According to Lt. Kozak, this work is paying off: there is a significant

drop in parties and underage drinking in the Mesa area. Where once there

were two or three desert parties a month, there are now almost none. ?Kids

have noticed a lot more heavy enforcement,? reports Lt. Kozak. ?The

perception of getting caught is higher.?


more information, please contact Lt. Brian Kozak at 480-644-4377 or

[email protected]




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Underage Drinking: Success Stories
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