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Athens-Clarke County (Georgia) Police Department: Case Study of an Effective and Comprehensive Youth Alcohol Enforcement Initiative

NCJ Number
Andrea Morrozoff
Date Published
February 2002
19 pages
This case study is an example of how the enforcement of underage drinking laws can be achieved through a continuous, yet low-cost and low-maintenance community-wide effort led by the local police executive.
The role of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department (ACCPD) in Georgia has been to provide leadership in the development of community support for countering underage drinking, overcoming obstacles to an effective community-wide prevention and enforcement effort, and addressing community opposition. Underage drinking is a high priority in Clarke County, because Athens is home to four college campuses, including the University of Georgia, which is widely known as a "party school." The case study first examines the program initiative and elements. Initially, the ACCPD collected incident-based information to document when and where underage drinking was occurring, and police conducted "sting" operations to assess the sources of alcohol for underage youth. This effort found that some of the bar owners had built their businesses on selling alcohol to underage drinkers. Based on a review of National Institute of Justice (NIJ) publications and law enforcement journals, the ACCPD decided to implement a consequence-based program that would address many levels of the problem. The program stresses consequences for establishments that serve underage drinkers, for underage persons who drink alcoholic beverages, and for persons who sell or purchase alcohol illegally or for the intended purpose of underage alcohol consumption. Tools other than strict enforcement of underage drinking laws included education and training by and for the community, especially bar owners, their employees, and alcohol-regulation violators. Mechanisms for gaining community support for this effort are described. In addition to the description of program elements, the case study discusses program funding and the "Do's and Don'ts" for underage alcohol law enforcement.