AUGUSTA – Nine police and five sheriff’s departments in Maine will share nearly $84,000 in federal money to combat and reduce underage drinking. Franklin County Sheriff’s Department will receive $7,499 to be used to develop policies and increase enforcement aimed at illegal possession of alcohol by minors and the illegal furnishing of that alcohol by adults.

The money comes from a federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant through the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Michael Cantara, public safety commissioner, said, “The funding for the one-year program begins June 1 and coincides with many end-of-the-year school activities such as proms and graduations, which are often used as excuses for underage drinking.

A key element will be consistent enforcement and parents will be notified when juveniles are found with alcohol.”

Cantara praised the police and sheriff’s departments for their participation in the program and urged parents to work with law enforcement to help reduce underage drinking. Other departments that will receive funding include Biddeford, Calais, Eliot, Orono, Oakland, Saco, Westbrook, York police departments and Waldo, Penobscot, Knox and Cumberland County sheriff departments.

“Prevention and enforcement make a powerful partnership,” said Kim Johnson, director of the Maine Office of Substance Abuse. “We know from a successful three-year project in Piscataquis County that a comprehensive initiative can have a huge impact. Underage drinking is a community problem and a community solution at its core can work in Maine.”

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