DPS in training to tackle underage drinking
Enhancing law enforcement’s ability to tackle the territory-wide problem of underage drinking is the goal of training taking place this week through the efforts of a partnership of local and off-island agencies.
Lieutenant Mike Pryor, from the Tucson Police Department, in Tucson, Arizona is conducting the training with the cooperation of the Department of Human and Social Services, Enforcing Underage Drinking Law’s Project (EUDL), First Lady Mary Ann Tulafono’s Ta’ita’itama Prevent Underage Drinking Initiative, American Samoa’s ABC Board and the Department Public Safety.
Pryor is here with the Pima Pacific Partnership as a consultant, and the training has been taking place this week on the top floor of the Uuna’i Building with Department of Public Safety officers.
“Over this week, we have looked at strategies that will enhance the ‘Covert Underage Buying’ —CUB—Operation, where licensees might be selling to underage individuals by not checking ID’s close enough, or by not checking at all,” said Pryor.
“We are trying to enhance the CUB operation,” he added.
“In addition, we are trying to intervene in underage drinking parties. We know that the level of violence at underage drinking keeps increasing. When you look at it, underage drinking victimizes our youth. We are not doing our youth any favors, when an adult gives them alcohol.
Pryor went on to say is that what they are trying to with all of these strategies is reduce the victimization of the youth of American Samoa.
Yesterday Pryor spoke to DPS Officers about different ways to intervene at these underage drinking parties, in a way that is designed to control the participants, instead of scattering them, where they might end up getting hurt, or running away in a vehicle where they could get into an accident.
“That is what we want to control and then focus our investigation on who is providing the alcohol to the kids. “The whole focus of everything that we are doing is, to find the adult provider … how do we identify that adult provider and how do we hold them accountable,” explained Lt. Pryor.
Another part of the training yesterday looked at strategies that have worked in the U.S, to see if any of those strategies might be used here to the territory to help stop the underage drinking problem. The training looked at prevention strategy, vendor-based strategies and law enforcement strategies.
“How do we educate our community better, so that our adults have the information they need to make the right choices?” he said.
A ‘Self Report Survey’ that, according to Lt. Pryor, was conducted last year surveying local high school students, entitled — 2011 Youth Risk Behavior — produced the following statistics:
41.3% have drunk alcohol
22.8% drank alcohol within the last 30 days of taking the survey
33.6% did not get the alcohol themselves
20.5% attempted suicide
19.8% carried a weapon
21.5% were forced to have sex
30.1% rode in a car with a drinking driver
Lt. Pryor is a 31 year law enforcement veteran, who has held supervisory and command positions since 1995 that include command of the Traffic Section, which involved overseeing impaired driving and underage drinking enforcement efforts, violent crimes, homicide section, street narcotics section, gang interdiction, executive Officer to the Chief of Police and Human Resources Commander. He is currently a consultant for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, working as a law enforcement trainer for the National Underage Drinking Training Center.
The Pima Pacific Partnership is a non-profit organization that has been working here in the territory on various projects since 2006.
The EUDL is funded through a grant from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program.
The training will conclude tomorrow afternoon.