BELMAR – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman today joined with the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control to announce the roll-out of the “Cops in Shops” Summer Shore Initiative, reaffirming his strong commitment to ensure that alcohol does not end up in the hands of those under the age of 21.
Under the program, local police officers work undercover in participating retail locations throughout New Jersey shore area communities. Law enforcement officials either pose as store employees or are positioned outside the establishment to apprehend adults who attempt to purchase alcohol for underage drinkers. Cops in Shops is a program designed by the Foundation for the Advancement of Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR), a national not-for-profit organization funded by distillers. The New Jersey Cops in Shops program is recognized nationally as a successful program. The Division adopted the popular program from FAAR in 1996, and its implementation has resulted in more than 10,000 arrests.
“I am focused today on a serious mission: keeping the good times safe for our teens and young people in New Jersey,” Hoffman said. “The effects of alcohol on a young person include serious negative effects on their health and the increased risk of exposure to motor vehicle crashes, assault, and unwanted sexual activity. Adolescence is a time of vulnerability, and we need to do all we can to protect the young as well as those who might be harmed by their conduct.”
The U.S. Department of Health says that approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21 die each year as a result of underage drinking. Nearly 40 percent of those deaths were from motor vehicle crashes where alcohol was a factor. The Jersey Shore is not immune to this danger: alcohol has been a factor in about 650 teen driver crashes during the summer in Atlantic, Cape May, Ocean and Monmouth counties in the last decade.
Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre said Cops in Shops has thrived for nearly two decades because of the collaboration of the liquor industry in New Jersey.
“Cracking down on underage drinking is a year-round, full-time pursuit for the ABC,” Halfacre said. “Our enforcement job is made more effective by the organizations that encourage their members to become ‘good citizens,’ which not only means complying with the law, but also, as seen in Cops in Shops, aiding law enforcement.”
This summer, 35 shore area police departments are participating in the program, with approximately $81,000 in funding provided by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. In 2013, 28 participating law enforcement agencies arrested 211 individuals during the crackdown.
“We applaud New Jersey for its efforts to prevent illegal underage alcohol purchases through the Cops in Shops program and the Summer Shore Initiative. Law enforcement and retailers are doing their part to stop underage drinking this summer and we call on legal age adults to do their part too. The majority of youth get the alcohol they drink from family and friends so we all have an important role to play in preventing underage drinking,” said Emma Jekowsky, a representative for FAAR.
Juan Negrin, President of the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance, said his organization “believes the program is successful because it is truly a cooperative effort, and the NJLSA is proud to again support this initiative.”
The New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association (NJLBA), which is comprised of bar, tavern and restaurant owners throughout New Jersey, supported the efforts announced today to combat underage drinking at the Jersey Shore.
“If you’re under 21 and you’re planning to try and get into a bar or nightclub this summer, we will be beefing up our efforts to prevent underage drinking,” said Diane Weiss, the NJLBA’s Executive Director. “Our members are well versed in looking for fake IDs, and they know how to spot underage individuals. Licensees will be working closely with the local police departments and the ABC throughout the summer months. If someone presents a fake ID, we will be taking the appropriate measures to make sure that the individual is not able to purchase or consume alcohol – and that includes calling the police.”
The Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control also administers the Cops in Shops College-Fall and Year-Round Initiatives. The College-Fall Initiative grant is available to police departments in New Jersey with a college or university either within its borders or in a neighboring community, and is aimed at keeping anyone under the age of 21 from drinking alcohol. This program, funded by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, runs from November through June. The Year-Round Initiative is funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and will be completed by 17 agencies in August.
A list of all grantees can be found below:
Summer Initiative: Absecon, Atlantic City, Avalon, Barnegat Township, Beach Haven, Belmar, Brick Township, Cape May City, Eatontown, Egg Harbor Township, Harvey Cedars, Jackson Township, Lake Como, Lakehurst, Lakewood, Lavallette Borough, Long Beach Township, Lower Township, Manchester Township, Neptune Township, Neptune City, North Wildwood, Ocean Gate, Ocean Township, Point Pleasant Beach, Point Pleasant Borough, Red Bank, Sea Isle City, Seaside Heights, Ship Bottom, Spring Lake Heights, Toms River Township, Union Township and Wildwood.
College-Fall Initiative: Deptford Township, Ewing Township, Glassboro, Lakewood, Montclair, Morris Township, Northvale, Piscataway Township, South Orange Village, Stratford, Teaneck and Woodbridge.
Year-Round Initiative: Atlantic City, Buena Borough, Fair Lawn, Burlington Township, Evesham, Medford, West Orange, Jersey City, West New York, East Brunswick, Metuchen, Middletown Township, Red Bank, Brick Township, Hillsborough, Westfield and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.