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Hingham wins $5,000 state grant for underage drinking crackdown

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  March 14, 2012 05:04 PM

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Hingham Police have been awarded a $5,000 grant to address underage drinking in the community, officers announced Wednesday.

Funded through the state's Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the grant will be used March through September to conduct underage alcohol stings and compliance checks in business, and for party and surveillance patrols.

Public education regarding the social host law will also be conducted during the grant.

Funding was chosen for these initiatives after police found that of 498 9th and 11th grade students surveyed, 129 (26 percent) said they had attended a party within the last 3 months where alcohol was served with an adult’s knowledge, according to a survey conducted at Hingham High.

Hingham applied for the grant in January and beat out 31 communities statewide for the funding.

"To be one of the few selected departments to receive this grant is rewarding because it shows support for our efforts to keep our young people safe," said Hingham Police Sgt. Steven Dearth.

Hingham has recently been cracking down on underage drinking. According to police, the number of arrests for minors in possession/transporting alcohol arrested in Hingham has increased. In 2011 there were 43 arrests compared to 23 in 2010.

In addition, the number of minors arrested for operating under the influence of alcohol in Hingham increased to four in 2011 from two in 2010.

Yet it's not only about arrests, Dearth said.

"This grant is not about generating arrest numbers, but rather a comprehensive plan to address many facets that contribute to under alcohol use (the education component mainly at adults, the compliance aspect with servers and stores, the enforcement aspect for searching for parties and surveillance for known locations that have been sites of under age alcohol parties and a partnership with the stores who allow an officer to work in their store (Cops in Shops) looking for people who purchase alcohol for minors or attempt to purchase using false ID's," he said.

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