CUMBERLAND COUNTY — A task force created to combat underage drinking has awarded grants to nine local law enforcement agencies.

The Cumberland County Underage Drinking Enforcement Task Force gave $2,000 each to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department and to police departments in Freeport, Yarmouth, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, South Portland, Bridgton, Westbrook and Windham. The money is earmarked to fund overtime so officers can patrol parties and conduct retail compliance checks.

According to results of the 2008 Maine Youth Drug and Alcohol Use Survey, students who don’t believe they will be caught by police are four times more likely to drink as students who do. In addition, the survey indicates students who believe alcohol is easy to obtain are four times as likely to have consumed alcohol in the past 30 days as those who believe it is difficult to obtain.

In 2008, according to a press release from 21 Reasons, the nine agencies receiving the grants charged 328 minors for possession of alcohol – an action project Assistant Director Jo Morrissey suggested could “redirect and keep a good kid from repeating a bad choice.”

The task force is a collaboration begun by 21 Reasons with funding from the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and PROP’s Communities Promoting Health.

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