Retailers, police begin effort to curb alcohol sales to minors


A countywide program to reduce underage drinking will be launched today by Junction Inc., when police, state and county officials, and the head of the Maryland liquor retailers association, gather at the County Office Building in Westminster.

The RAAM program -- for Reducing the Availability of Alcohol to Minors -- is a partnership between alcohol retailers and law enforcement agencies, said Bonnie Bosley, director of the project for Junction, a private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment and prevention center at 98 N. Court St.

Both groups have received training in the program, which will include putting plainclothes police officers in liquor stores and outside on the parking lots.

The beginning of the program coincides with proms, graduations, and the end-of-school, start-of-summer season, Bosley said. The program will include placing signs in liquor stores and advertising on a billboard.

The program is funded by the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention, and the county, Bosley said.

Also expected to attend today's ceremonies are Peter G. Samios, president of the Maryland Liquor Stores Association; the Westminster barracks commander of the state police; the Carroll County sheriff; and the Westminster police chief.

Samios, a local liquor store owner, said he's enlisting alcohol retailers to cut underage drinking.

"We have a couple things going on here," he said. "The basic thing is trying to get everybody on the same wavelength, working up to the prom season, with the abilities to make this happen.

"There are a lot of problems retailers have," he said, such as fake identifications and people older than age 21 buying alcohol for others. "What do you do? Call the police, and they're already gone."

RAAM was used in a pilot project in Ocean City in 1995, and has been used in Baltimore County, said Bosley.

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