DPS: Underage drinking being tackled head on
Close to 40 arrests were made over the weekend in efforts by the Patrol Division under the Department of Public Safety to tackle underage drinking enforcement. Captain Lima Togia said the enforcement started a week ago and ended over the weekend. He told Samoa News, the majority of the 36 people they nabbed over the weekend were storeowners and cashiers who sold alcoholic beverages to minors.
Cpt. Togia said this enforcement program was initiated by the Commissioner of Public Safety Tuaolo Manaia Fruean, who sees the need to eliminate the problem of underage drinking. The current enforcement effort had 15 police officers working 12 hours a day for seven days.
“The cashiers and storeowners were nabbed following a sting operation they conducted where minors were used to go into store to attempt to buy the alcoholic beverage and some sold it to minors while some refused to sell alcohol to minors,” he said.
Cpt. Togia noted that alcohol is a contributing factor to committing crimes such as public peace disturbance, assault, violent crimes, stealing and other criminal acts.
“The youth are more bold to commit a crime if they are under the influence of alcohol and we see this every day at work” he said. “Underage drinking is one of the most serious forms of alcohol abuse and has an overwhelmingly negative impact on the young people as a whole and this is unacceptable to the Department of Public Safety. We believe that if we continue this enforcement program, this will affect real change amongst the youth of American Samoa.”
This enforcement program is very important to curb underage drinking, Cpt. Togia said. He said the youth need to know the dangers of alcohol abuse and misuse and that underage drinking is bad for their overall development.
“The DPS takes the scourge of underage drinking very seriously and that is why we have decided to conduct this program not only to for deterrent to the business and vendors who are selling alcohol to minors, but also to confront — head on — one of the biggest challenges the territory faces today: underage drinking,” he said.
The captain added that there is a need to develop a campaign, which would include a series of school visits that encompass an interactive road show on underage drinking; an inter-school competition to consolidate and drive home the message; curriculum aligned lesson plans for teachers; a practical guide for parents; resources for teens including counseling; and reading materials.
Cpt. Togia said the teachers in the schools should be able to assist the youth to understand the harmful effects of underage drinking and to give teens the resistance techniques required to withstand peer pressure.
He said the goals of the enforcement program are to inform, educate, and persuade parents to be more vigilant about preventing underage drinking and arm parents and other adults with proven techniques to protect their kids from underage drinking.
The youth should also be exposed to many of the consequences of drinking, including risky sexual behavior and drunk driving results, and there should also be discussions for ways to successfully block teenage access to alcohol, said Cpt. Togia.