On Friday, the Peabody Police Department placed a half page announcement in the Salem News describing “2013 Enforcement Activity”. This activity specifically targets underage alcohol use and includes three initiatives:
1.Underage Stings/Compliance Checks: law enforcement agencies have employed this approach for a number of years and almost always find some establishment selling alcohol to minors. This effort utilizes underage youth employed and closely supervised by the police department entering local establishments and attempting to procure alcohol beverages, usually using a fake ID. The penalties from these infractions may lead to the suspension of a restaurant's liquor license which could force its closure. Liquor stores caught selling to minors could be forced to close for a specific period if time, costing then valuable sales and income.
2.Directed Patrols: these involve increased surveillance of areas known for previous alcohol related infractions and high volume alcohol use (downtown tavern area). This approach also includes road blocks and procuring alcohol for a minor. You can often tell when a Directed Patrol is in process when there is a police car (often unmarked) parked near a liquor store or tavern and watching the parking lot.
3.Surveillance Patrols: This is similar to the Directed Patrols but identifies other areas to be watched including “local sporting events, town conservation land and other areas identified as “hot spots”'. (In nearby Marblehead two of the local "hot spots" are under an old railroad bridge and Seaside Park.)
These activities are all specifically focused on reducing underage alcohol use. Underage alcohol use is noted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as a “major public health problem”
Fair warning is now posted in a public document so that no one may claim that their rights have been violated if they are snared in these round-ups. The notice states that these efforts will reduce more expensive occurrences such as hospitalizations auto accidents, criminal activities and death.
Peabody's efforts raise the question of why this is not occurring in every community. As stated in the last sentence of the notice: “Preventing underage drinking is everyone's responsibility”