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MIT Pledges Support for Program To Place Officers in Liquor Stores

By Jennifer Lane
Editor in Chief

Yesterday, MIT officials broadened their commitment to curtailing underage drinking, pledging Institute support for Cambridge's new Cops in Shops program, aimed at deterring illegal underage attempts to purchase alcohol.

At a press conference yesterday, Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin presented MIT's $1,000 contribution to James Tipping, the president of the Cambridge licensee advisory board. Harvard University's Police Chief, Francis Riley, was on hand to pledge the support of his university, as well.

"This is truly a partnership of the board, retailers, the city, MIT, and Harvard," Glavin said. Representatives of the Cambridge Sail Loft as well as Cambridge Mall Liquors also attended the press conference to show their support.

Officers pose as store employees

Cops in Shops places plainclothes police offers in Cambridge and Watertown liquor stores to issue citations or make arrests for violations of local and state liquor laws.

The program is aimed at deterring the underage purchase of alcohol, as well as the legal sale of alcohol for the purpose of distribution to underage individuals. Officers inside the store check identification, while officers positioned outside the store apprehend patrons supplying alcohol to those under 21.

Underage individuals attempting to purchase alcohol will not be able to tell if the store employees are actually police officers, Glavin said. This will act as a deterrent to the underage purchase of alcohol.

We are going to "go after this to cut off alcohol purchase at the source," Glavin said.

The officers will also be on the lookout for those presenting false identification.

The program is trying to "put a dent in some of this illegal activity where students are purchasing alcohol with false identification," said Frank Pasquarello, public information officer for the Cambridge Police.

Program has different approach

The Cops in Shops program emphasizes police presence rather than heightened penalties for illegal alcohol procurement. Penalties remain the same.

The purchase of alcohol for someone under the age of 21 carries a maximum penalty of $2,000 and 6 months in prison. The purchase of alcohol by someone under 21 carries a maximum fine of $300.

Selling, owning or using a false identification is a misdemeanor, and the offender may be arrested immediately, without a warrant.

Similar programs have been implemented in other cities including: Omaha, Neb., Urbana, Ill., and Dallas, Tex.

The program includes a massive ad campaign including posters, television and radio public service announcements, and educational materials for retailers.

Accordingly, Glavin will begin a poster campaign on the MIT campus alerting students to the existence of the program.

For the future, the City of Cambridge is considering a ban on alcohol delivery within the city, a move that MIT would wholly support, Glavin said.