State Grant Helps Ship Bottom Cops Combat Underage Drinking

Jul 12, 2017

Fighting underage drinking just got a little easier for the Ship Bottom Police Department under a $3,600 state grant that allows officers to be on the front lines with local businesses that sell alcohol.  he Cops in Shops program, an annual initiative by the N.J. Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, is now in its 21st year of preventing underage individuals from obtaining alcohol. It does this by providing grant money to pay local police who work with participating alcohol retailers.

“My hope is not to catch kids trying to purchase alcohol underage, but to discourage them from even trying, thinking police might be in the stores,” Sgt. Michael Nash said.

In the past, fake IDs were poor quality and fairly easy to spot, he said. Frequently, those  IDs worked only on business owners not vigilant about selling to underage individuals. Still, even with fake IDs, underage individuals would ask an older friend to purchase alcohol or liquor for them, Nash said. As a last resort, they hung around the outside of a liquor store and asked a stranger going into the business to buy them alcohol.

All of that’s changed. In the digital age, fake IDs can be ordered online, and delivered directly to a mailbox within a few days, Nash said. The companies making the IDs are up to date on all the security features across all of the state IDs, he said, noting that makes it difficult from a law enforcement standpoint.

What makes it even more difficult is that the technology in the stores isn’t as current and doesn’t always catch fake IDs, he said. The card readers show only the date of birth on a driver’s license or other form of ID; the goal of a fake ID is to alter the birth date, so they’re not very effective even for the most cautious business owners.

“Most of the newer fakes have almost all of the security features that the real ones have,” Nash said, “so it is very difficult for the untrained eye to spot a fake from a real one. The only sure way is to run the license through the police computer and to see if it’s legit.”

He said the borough has seen a decrease in the number of arrests from underage alcohol violations since the early days of its participation in the state program.

“Our local liquor stores have been great with assisting us to combat this problem,” Nash said. “We both know that as long as kids exist, they will find a way to get alcohol somehow, but obviously less alcohol in their hands and making it as difficult for them to get it as possible can only help.”

— Gina G. Scala



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