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Underage Drinking - A New Priority for Law Enforcement

By Travis Bruyer

“Unit 39, respond to the vicinity of 1st Avenue and 5th Street for the report of a possible underage drinking party..Several young people appearing intoxicated, some challenging to fight others”..

Let’s face the facts; these calls are about as unpleasant as domestics. In fact, I’d rather deal with a domestic then a house full of out of control, intoxicated youth. That is until about four years ago when I was offered the position of the county alcohol task force in the town I grew up in. That town is Kalispell, Montana The consumption of alcohol by our youth had reached a critical mass level. Nearly 77% of our 12th graders used alcohol regularly. When two 11-year-olds died after consuming a half gallon of vodka, we realized it was time to take harsh measures to deter use. Our county actually had one of the highest reported rates of underage drinking incidents in the country and a crisis that needed to be dealt with.

In 2006 the Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking (STOP) Act was passed by a unanimous vote in the Senate and House. This was one of many indications that underage drinking is a priority at national, state, and community levels. Even the Surgeon General stated in his “Call to Action” that our children are our priority and that underage drinking is the greatest threat to our youth. Plainly put, we needed to start doing things in the best interest of children. We established one of the first alcohol enforcement teams in the nation.

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What is an A.E.T.? It is one of the most successful tools rural communities can use to address the underage drinking pandemic. By combining the enforcement power of all law enforcement agencies in a jurisdiction you can maximize your effectiveness and launch an “all-out-assault” on every facet of this issue, not to mention strengthen those agencies involved professional relationship. Simply put, this is a collaborative agreement from department heads to collectively work together. By combining agencies you can select from a much broader pool of Officers to cover shifts as much of the complaint is “we don’t have enough officers to do that”.

Officers from around the county “partner up” on shifts actively searching for underage drinking (Party Patrol), conducting alcohol compliance checks, and other Environmental Strategies to reduce the availability of alcohol to youth and enforce underage drinking laws. Officers work in unmarked vehicles patrolling problem areas or attending community events known to attract youth and risky behavior.

What we should consider most as Law Enforcement with regard to underage drinking, is “What has changed?” This is not the same generation as ours. Sure we might have drank when we were young, but most of us weren’t drinking at age 12 and on past age 21. Most over 30 somethings started when they were 15 or16. Today’s youth are more advanced than we ever were and in many ways. Onset of alcohol use, illicit drug use, and sexual activity comes very early in the lives of today’s youth. More importantly they are subversive.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 4 years ago


    One solution to this problem would be to implement an alcohol testing and counseling program for teens. I am also in favor of the idea of the breathalyzer myself, it could prove itself useful in the area.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    State Legislators' Message To Underage Drinkers:

    1.) To prevent blood borders, the drinking age in every State has to be 21, because that's the only integer that is equal to itself.

    2.) Drinking alcohol during pregnancy harms the baby, so we impose Prohibition on men under 21 and not on pregnant women 21 and older.

    3.) A tipsy rape victim will be arrested for internal possession if she calls the police, who are there to protect and serve.

    4.) We jail parents who are home supervising your drinking sessions in order to prevent you from holding such sessions.

    5.) A new scientific study published in the New England Journal of Medicine conclusively establishes that the politicians you voted against have a right to impose this law on you.

    6.) Statistical analysis of historical crash data proves that the United States of America ought not to be a free country, with liberty and justice for all, where the citizen decides what to drink, where parents govern their child who still lives in their house, where the punishment for drunk driving is meted out to the drunk drivers.

    7.) Freeways are more important than freedom, -- especially when it's your freedom, not ours -- so we sold your freedom to get more highway construction money from Congress, (like a mother selling her daughter for cocaine money,) and we still expect you to respect this law.

    8.) The drinking age saves lives. Of course, we could save a lot more lives, maybe yours, by doing what it takes to eliminate drunk driving, but we'd have to give up driving drunk ourselves, and that's not fair because we can drive better drunk than teenagers can sober.

    9.) A combination of driving inexperience and alcohol make you a greater danger on the road, whether you drive or not, and that gives us the right to punish you when you drink alcohol, whether you drive or not.

    10.) Don't drive drunk? We can list some other crimes you never commit, as an excuse to deny liberty to you: murder, rape, assault...

    11.) Everybody who drinks under age is immature and irresponsible because they're doing something that is illegal, as well it should be, because they're so immature and irresponsible.

    12.) Liquor corporations have the nerve to advertise their products to you, and we have more respect for their First Amendment right to free speech than we have for your God-given right to drink the beverage of your choice.

    13.) We can't stop older drunks from freely exercising their right to practice alcoholism, because they hold too much political power, but some of them started as teenagers and never had a chance to quit since then, so we punish you instead.

    14.) You shouldn't destroy your brain while it is only 95 percent developed. You should wait until it is completely developed and then destroy it, like we did.

    15.) Even though this law is imposed on you by morons who cannot see the obvious flaws in these absurd arguments, it is embellished with a fancy seal, and a Governor years ago scribbled his autograph on it, so you have a sacred duty to obey it.

    Translated by Tom Alciere
    Webmaster, Underage Drinkers Against Drunk Driving

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    A great article! I love the analogy of offering a youth a cigarette and telling them to be just doesn't happen. He also points out how much more we know now about alcohol's effects on the developing body and brain. I've shared this info. with others.

  • Native_clip_art_4_049_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    Fortunately we have partnered with the local pd, ABC, ALE and do periodic drives addressing underaged drinking. It has been productive and has aided in tightening the access points. The stores that sell alcoholic beverages, the bars that are permissive and overlook "ID" irregularities. Its a joint effort and takes all elements of local law enforcement to address this issue. Word is spreading that there is zero tolerance for underage drinking

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    almost 6 years ago


    Very informative and educational. I am fowarding it to a friend of mine who is an agent with NC ALE (North Carolina Alcohol Law Enfocement). Great job.

  • 0820091029b_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    I get very upset, when I listen to certain radio stations (like the world famous KLOS) for a while and realize that they are totally making it sound COOL and NORMAL to get drunk by doing things like calling their listeners "party people", talking about getting drunk and add laughing "hopefully noone is going to do this at home", but in reality, "promote" the use of alcohol, in my opinion. If my kid was bigger and would die because being influenced by them, I would sue them. Should they not be more responsable ? Who is behind this ? Who owns this radio station ? Who has interest in selling alcohol ?
    I stopped listening to them, one morning, around 5 - 6 am, when they put tape on an intern who they had found passed out on the floor (of the radio station), very funny indead !

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    almost 6 years ago


    A well written article with sound information. Keep up the good work.

  • Headshot_-_sage__paint__max50


    almost 6 years ago


    My name is Scott Maloney and I speak to high school and college students about dangerous decisions that are made under the influence of alcohol. I'm very interested in speaking to schools throughout Flathead County, check out for more info.

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