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Jersey Shore ‘Cops in Shops’ program targets underage drinkers

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

PUBLIC SAFETY: New Jersey officials are once again bringing their “Cops in Shops” program to the Shore in an effort to crack down on underage drinking.

The initiative hits hard by having local police officers working undercover in liquore store looking for people under 21 trying to buy booze or those of legal age trying to buy it for them.

This year, 28 towns will participate, including Absecon, Beach Haven, Lavallette, Neptune (Towship and City), Point Pleasant (Beach and Boro), Spring Lake Heights, Ship Bottom, Toms River and Wildwood.

“Attitudes among some adults and young people about the dangers of underage drinking can range from indifferent to dismissive, making our job that much more challenging,” Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Director Michael Halfacre. “But that’s a challenge we embrace at the ABC because we are committed to preserving the physical and emotional health of the young people in New Jersey.”

Last summer, more than 200 people were arrested as part of the “Cops in Shops” program at the Shore.

It’s been used year-round locally, as well — in Fair Lawn, West New York and Jersey City, among other municipalities.

The program is made possible through the ABC with  grant money from the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

Since the ABC adopted the popular program from the Century Council in 1996, law enforcement has made more than 10,000 related arrests, state authorities said.

“[I]f you’re too young to buy, don’t even try,” said Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Century Council. “Cops will be in every place necessary to make sure everyone who buys is of legal age.”

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