Underage Drinking: Success Stories

         

Underage

Drinking: Success Stories

 

 

Rhode

Island

February

28, 2002

 

Scope

of Problem

Prevention

Strategies

Learn

More

Success

Stories

Selected

Resources

 

With

support from the OJJDP Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Initiative,

community organizations, enforcement agencies, youth, and other concerned

citizens are working collaboratively to change local ordinances and

enforcement practices.

 

In

Newport

,

RI

,

Police and Retailers

Take the Fakes

Police

in

Newport,

Rhode Island, have developed an innovative program designed to get fake IDs out of

circulation.  Called

?Identification Seizure,? the program has taken more than 800 fake IDs

off the street.

 

 

Newport

is a seaside town of some 24,000 year-round residents. In summer, this

balloons to more than 60,000 as tourists and students flock to local

beaches. Newport

is popular with college students, due to its laid-back lifestyle and

reputation for alcohol availability. This popularity has fostered a

problem with underage drinking in the town. In discussing the problem with

Newport

police, bar owners noted an increase in minors using fake IDs to procure

alcohol. Recent technological advances?such as the Internet and cheap

color printers?have caused an explosion in the creation and distribution

of fake identification. Although bar owners have prevented the use of fake

IDs in their own establishments somewhat, they could not confiscate the

IDs and did not engage the police.

 

 

Identification Seizure, the brainchild of Officer Kevin Parsonage

and others, sought to remedy this by encouraging bar owners to cooperate

with police. When an establishment employee suspects an ID might be a

fake, he asks that person to wait until a police officer arrives to

investigate. Usually, the patron will abandon the fake ID and flee. If the

customer does wait for the officer and the ID is subsequently found to be

false, the officer issues a citation of up to $500 dollars.

The program was first implemented in summer of 2001; in three

months, more than 400 fake IDs were collected from only five bars. To

date, the program has netted more than 800 fake IDs from underage patrons.

 

 

According to Officer Parsonage, the first challenge in implementing

the program was convincing bar owners to call police officers to their

establishments, an action generally considered ?bad for business?.

Unfortunately, bar owners did not feel comfortable asking for help from

local police, and believed that having an increased number of

calls-for-service would hurt them when it came time to renew their liquor

licenses. Officer Parsonage worked with the owners to alleviate their

concerns and secure their participation.

 

 

Once convinced that it was actually good for business?that a

proactive attitude will reduce emergency calls?the bars joined the

program with enthusiasm. With support from Chief Charles Golden,

Identification Seizure has expanded from five to nearly fifteen bars, with

others clamoring to join. Officer Parsonage has invited all local

establishments?about 130 in total?to a workshop on the program this

March.

 

Public awareness is also an

important part of the Identification Seizure program, and Officer

Parsonage describes the media response as ?sur-prising.? With just a

few phone calls, the program has generated sustained interest, and local

newspapers and television stations have done repeated stories on the

extent and success of the program.

   Identification Seizure

is part of a broader effort to reduce underage drinking and

alcohol-related crime. Since its inception,

Newport

has seen significant decreases in assaults, disorderly conducts, and

felony arrests; Officer Parsonage describes the positive results as

?overwhelming.? and says the programs have ?improved the quality of

life throughout the city.?  As

he puts it:  ?We may never

know how many lives we have saved. . . .?

For

more information, contact Officer Kevin Parsonage, Newport Police

Department, at 401-847-0686.

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Underage Drinking: Success Stories
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