Harford County Police Crack Down On Underage Smoking And Drinking

April 29, 1997|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Police in Harford County will no longer let underage drinkers or smokers walk away with a warning under a "zero-tolerance" policy set to take effect this week, officials said.

The policy -- intended to stem the number of teen-agers who smoke and drink and go on to use illegal drugs -- will require officers to issue civil citations to young violators, said Sgt. Edward Hopkins, a spokesman for the Harford County Sheriff's Office.

The citations, given to those under age 18 who smoke or those under age 21 who drink, will require them and their parents to meet with officials from the Department of Juvenile Justice.

In the past, officers have had the discretion to tell underage drinkers to empty their beer cans and leave with a warning, Hopkins said.

"The concern was that underage children are that -- they're underage. They need parental supervision," said George F. Harrison, spokesman for Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann.

Rehrmann pushed for the policy after seeing statistics indicating that children who begin smoking and drinking at an early age have a greater likelihood of using drugs or developing serious drinking problems.

Juvenile justice officials are to assess those who receive citations to determine whether they should be assigned to stop-smoking classes or to alcohol treatment.

Hopkins said police also plan to step up enforcement of laws prohibiting adults from supplying youngsters with cigarettes and alcohol.

Pub Date: 4/29/97

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