The Westfield Police Department was recently awarded a $5000 grant to combat underage drinking. The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security’s Highway Safety Division (EOPSS/HSD) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is providing $$256,000.00 in funding to 74 Massachusetts communities on a competitive basis with awards ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. Funding was delayed this year due to the Federal Budget process being exceptionally slow and not releasing all funding to the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division. This grant will carry to September 30, 2017.
“There are many tools to combat underage drinking, and this grant provides much needed funding to target the problem,” said Captain Michael McCabe. “Whether you are underage, plan to sell to a minor, or buy alcohol for a minor, we will be on the lookout.”
This grant will fund a variety of law enforcement activities. Between July 24, 2017, and October 24, 2017, the Westfield Police Department will be conducting alcohol compliance checks for minors in bars, restaurants and retail locations. Until this grant expires on September 30, 2017 other activities such as reverse stings, party patrols, “shoulder tap” and “Cops in Shops” programs may also take place.
Through a combination of these techniques, departments analyze and crack down on minors who seek to circumvent the law and people and businesses that enable them. Over the past three years, activities under this grant have resulted in 485 youth citations and 340 arrests. Citations were also issued to 413 adults, and 352 adult arrests were made across the Commonwealth.
“Teens and parents need to be reminded that underage drinking is deadly serious,” said Captain McCabe. “Those under or over 21 years old, to include parents, need to know that hosting a party where alcohol is served to minors is both illegal and extremely dangerous for the minors, for others in the community, and for the party hosts themselves, given the legal liabilities they face.”
Although much progress has been made in the last two decades, alcohol-related crashes are all too common among young people. According to NHTSA, in 2013, 29% of young drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed in crashes had blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of .01 or higher. Of those young drivers who had tested positive for alcohol, 82% of them had BACs of .08 or higher. NHTSA estimates that minimum drinking-age laws (21 years old) have saved 29,834 lives nationwide since 1975.
Any loss or injury on our roadways is one too many. The Westfield Police Department, in partnership with EOPSS, recognizes that traffic crashes are preventable, and is committed to using this grant to reduce the number of motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries in Westfield.