Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Underage purchases targeted

By Lew Moores, lmoores@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MIAMI TOWNSHIP — The police chief of this Clermont County township is pleased with the initiative of Speedway SuperAmerica to alert police any time a minor attempts to purchase alcohol or tobacco products at one of its stores.

        “It just thrilled me,” said Police Chief Steve Bailey, whose department for the past several years has targeted sales of alcohol to minors. “I'm glad to see this very positive approach by this company.”

        The company has just one Speedway in the township, but Chief Bailey believes the initiative is encouraging, especially because the police department takes underage sales seriously.

        Each year, the police department sends out notices to liquor permit holders in the township alerting them that police will be checking whether they sell to underage consumers.

        The police use underage volunteers to go into the stores and attempt to purchase alcohol. On May 10, police did a sweep of 39 of the township's permit holders and arrested six store clerks. The charge is a misdemeanor with a possible fine of $500.

        “We started off targeting around prom time,” said Chief Bailey. “But now we do it at least two times a year, and we're working this year on doing it four times.”

        Linda Casey, spokeswoman for Speedway, said the company, based in Enon, Ohio, initiated the STOP program in Southwest Ohio. Signs are posted in the 259 convenience stores warning underage customers that police will be called if they attempt to purchase alcohol or tobacco.

        “It's kind of a test market,” said Ms. Casey of the program that began less than a month ago. “In the past, there was really no downside to a kid trying to buy something underage. Either they succeeded or they didn't. And if they didn't, they'd walk over to the next store. As a corporation and as parents, we want to do everything we can to stop these underage purchases.”

        Ms. Casey said it is up to law enforcement what to do with the potential underage violator once supplied with identification, a description or license plate — either make an arrest, notify parents or issue a warning.

        In the past month, Miami Township police have arrested 40 people for underage alcohol offenses.


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