Representatives from the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office, Nebraska State Patrol, and Omaha Police Department said during the kickoff press event last month that they know the potential for underage drinking increases during prom and graduation season, but this public awareness campaign – in addition to trying to find parties and events where alcohol is being illegally consumed – has an even greater job to do. The core purpose of the underage drinking tip line is to seek out and prevent underage drinking and the problems caused by such behavior.
Between 2007 and 2011, more than 1,400 underage Nebraska drivers were in alcohol-related accidents. Seven hundred of those young people were injured; 50 died. On top of that, underage drinking costs Nebraskans $447 million dollars annually in the form of hospitalizations, law enforcement expenses and funerals.
In addition to the phone number, officers and deputies are putting up posters, passing out breathalyzer tests and speaking about the issue. A webpage, www.reportunderagedrinking.com, is also available for additional information.
“Project Extra Mile fully and completely supports this kind of collaborative enforcement work,” said Nicole Carritt, executive director of Project Extra Mile. “Prom and graduation season certainly brings the issue of underage drinking front and center, but this tipline is a great resource any time.”
Carritt also stressed that alcohol enforcement needs to be approached from all angles – from the underage consumer back to retail or outlet source.