The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 16, 2014

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Students and Residents discuss ways to decrease Rutland County’s underage drinking

RUTLAND-Recently, about 50 Rutland County residents came together at the Stafford Technical Center Dollhouse Restaurant for a planning meeting to determine how best to address the problem of underage drinking during the next year. The group was tasked with deciding on how to spend $40,000 from the federal government for the Rutland County Stop Teen Alcohol Risk Team (START). The team is a collaborative made up of police departments, youth organizations like Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), Court Diversion, the State's Attorney's Office, and community anti-drug coalitions like Rutland Area Prevention Coalition (RAP), Rutland United Neighborhoods (RUN), and Black River Area Coalition (BRAC).

Sarah Roy, Rutland County's Prevention Specialist, gave a rundown of the latest results from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The trends were promising, as most alcohol related figures for the county were down. High school students reported less binge drinking, underage drinking, drunk driving, and riding with a drunk driver. On the other hand, reported use of marijuana among high school students was up, as is being found in the rest of the country. Prescription drug abuse reports in the area have increased as well.

The group reviewed the law enforcement activities last year-the statistics of what arrests and tickets were handed out by police officers operating under the START grant while responding to reported underage drinking parties (reactive patrol) or while performing proactive patrols during times of suspected partying. START also provides officers who perform educational outreach activities around underage drinking or who facilitate substance-free alternative activities.

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The group decided to allocate $33,000 for law enforcement activities, $5,000 to support Rutland County Court Diversion and Restorative Justice Center's TASP (Teen Alcohol Safety Program), $1,000 for printing and meeting costs, and $1,000 to facilitate training for the SADD students in the county.

The attendees decided on a couple of projects to improve the groups efficiency. Rutland County START will provide training for police officers in the detection of fake IDS and will support local merchants in more successfully deterring minors attempting to purchase alcoholic beverages using false identification. The law enforcement partners will be developing a yearly calendar of events in the county that may need police coverage and will schedule four proactive patrols a year.

Tagged: underage drinking, SADD, START, RAP