February 29, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Steps Up Enforcement of Underage Drinking Laws as Halloween Nears:

This week, more than 4,400 Santa Monica households will receive mailings notifying them the Santa Monica Police Department is increasing neighborhood party patrols throughout Halloween and the rest of the holiday season.

The mailing is one in a series being sent to residents and alcohol retailers informing them of the ongoing operations to reduce underage and binge drinking in Santa Monica.

In August, more than 400 Santa Monica bars, restaurants, and liquor stores, received similar notices intended to deter alcohol sales to minors and intoxicated patrons.

SMPD Sgt. Rudy Camarena said the department understands that young people want to celebrate and have a good time, but SMPD want to make sure that their gatherings are safe.

“Underage drinking poses a health risk to the youth as well as to the community at large as it relates to intoxicated driving, preventable accidents, injuries and fatalities,” Camarena said. “The Santa Monica Police Department will continue its efforts to also ensure that retailers engage in responsible business practices which limits access to alcohol by minors.”

The enforcement efforts are funded by a grant from the Substance Abuse, Prevention, and Control Division of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department. The operations began last October to address the underage and binge drinking rates in Santa Monica; they include the deployment of underage decoys, undercover investigations at bars, restaurants, and stores, and high visibility patrols targeting hosts who allow underage drinking parties.

The police department has been working on the grant in collaboration with The Westside Impact Project, a county-funded initiative to reduce alcohol-related harms in Santa Monica and Venice.

“We hope these mailings will remind parents, party hosts, and businesses selling alcohol to be vigilant in preventing underage drinking during Halloween and throughout the holidays,” said Sarah Blanch, Director of the Westside Impact Project.

Recent data show high rates of underage and binge drinking rates among Santa Monica youth. In a summer 2015 Santa Monica Youth Survey conducted by Harder+Company, an independent community research firm, 86% of respondents ages 16 to 20 indicated that alcohol is ‘somewhat’ or ‘very easy’ to get.

In a recent California Healthy Kids Survey of Santa Monica Malibu School District students, over 40 percent of juniors indicated they drank alcohol to ‘feel it a lot’ or ‘to get really drunk’. The data also show house parties are one of the main points of access, with over 60 percent of respondents reporting they obtained alcohol from parties and other social gatherings.

Law enforcement officials say operations will continue into next year. The Westside Impact Project also plans to extend the enforcement message to the community through a larger visibility campaign in Santa Monica newspapers and movie theaters.

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