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PRC in the News

from the April 30, 2008 edition of The East Oregonian

OR: Thirty-Six Oregon Towns Cracking Down on Underage Drinkers

Underage drinking should get a bit tougher in Hermiston starting Thursday. That's because the city is one of 36 smaller Oregon communities taking part in a two-year study, Reduce Youth Access to Alcohol.

Federal grants are sponsoring the project that aims to evaluate what happens when communities work to curtail underage drinking.

Half of the communities in the study will step up efforts to keep alcohol out of the hands of minors and half will work as comparison controls.

The Hermiston Police Department falls into the first class. During the course of the study, police will run underage decoy operations, "shoulder tap" operations, break up underage drinking parties and conduct traffic stops.

Hermiston Police Lt. Jason Edmiston described the project as proactive in nature. He said it give officers the opportunity to have a meaningful impact on a serious situation.

How serious? According the 2005 Oregon Healthy Teens Survey report, nearly 50 percent of Oregon 11th graders use and abuse alcohol. Further, 29 percent of Oregon 11th graders had five or more alcoholic drinks in a row in the past 30 days.

Edmiston also pointed out there is a significant financial cost underage drinking.

"According to a 2006 release for the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, underage drinking cost the citizens of Oregon $724 million in 2005," Edmiston said.