252 Underage Drinkers Arrested by Underage Cops Posing as Liquor Store Employees
The so-called "Cops in Shops" program, which embeds undercover officers in Jersey Shore liquor stores to catch underage drinkers, resulted in 252 arrests in the state this past summer.
Wesley Geiselman, acting director of the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, said a record 39 shore towns took part in the summer effort this year.
"It concentrates basically along the shore in the summer," Geiselman said. "We have a college fall initiative which we are just starting, which concentrates basically in college towns throughout the state."
The 2015-16 College Fall Initiative will begin Dec. 1.
Cops in Shops was designed by the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, a national nonprofit organization funded by distillers to fight and deter underage drinking.
According to Geiselman, the program not only catches unwary underage drinkers at the point of purchase, but also serves to put all others with those designs on notice.
"Once you make a couple of arrests in those stores, word gets out, and it creates a great deterrent," he said. "A lot of towns will continue to run this program throughout the year and concentrate on prom times, etc."
We asked Geiselman why underage drinking continues to be an issue, and why minors continue to attempt to purchase alcohol, year-in and year-out. He called that the "question of the century."
He suggested that kids, some of them anyway, just feel they have a right to drink alcohol. He said it puts liquor retailers in what he called "an extremely difficult position," because they are selling a legal product, but they can only sell it to a certain class.
Now in its 19th year of operation, the Cops in Shops program has racked up more than 11,000 arrests for underage drinking in New Jersey.
Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5.