FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 04, 2010


Mo. Department of Public Safety, Local Communities, Whiteman Join Forces to Reduce Underage Drinking

Grant of almost $1 million will strengthen local partnership

Missouri will be receiving $949,617 in federal funding for a joint effort to increase readiness among Whiteman Air Force Base personnel through a program designed to reduce the use of alcohol by underage Airmen.  Partners in the effort are the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Whiteman Air Force Base, the University of Central Missouri, the cities of Warrensburg and Knob Noster, and Johnson County.  The new federal grant, administered by the Department of Public Safety, will fund the program over the next three years.

"This grant is good news," said Missouri Department of Public Safety Director, John M. Britt.  "It should boost what is already a strong, united effort by this community to reduce underage alcohol consumption." 

The University of Central Missouri in conjunction with the Warrensburg Area Partners in Prevention (WAPIP) will be receiving a sub-grant from the Department of Public Safety to coordinate and implement the project.  WAPIP has already had a substantial impact on drinking in the Warrensburg community.

"Through WAPIP's combination of regulatory improvements, alcohol free activities, increased enforcement initiatives, and community education, in 2008 our city saw a 97 percent decrease in underage liquor law violations in our downtown entertainment district," said WAPIP Chairperson Amy Kiger.  "We are looking forward to utilizing this federal grant funding to expand these successful strategies to the Knob Noster and Whiteman Air Force Base community."

Dr. Aaron Podolefsky, president of the University of Central Missouri, added, "In recent years, we've seen the positive impact of efforts on and off campus to reduce underage drinking. The university is pleased to be a committed partner in this joint effort, realizing that it will contribute to a safer environment for everyone involved.”

Specific strategies that will be used include law enforcement saturation efforts targeting DWI, regulatory compliance checks to ensure alcohol retailers are not selling to minors, an education and awareness media campaign, and providing opportunities for underage Airmen to socialize without alcohol at the base and with students on the university campus. 

"While the underage drinking rates among our Airmen are lower than the general population, any underage drinking is incompatible with Air Force core values," said Brig. Gen. Robert E. Wheeler, 509th Bomb Wing Commander.  "We really appreciate this grant because we have an enemy to fight and underage drinking degrades our ability to prosecute that critical mission.”

The Department of Public Safety, Juvenile Justice Program applied for the grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and is in charge of administration of this new Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Discretionary Grant.  The grant will permit the expansion of an existing position and the hiring of one full-time and two part-time employees. 

WAPIP is a community coalition created to promote the safe and legal sale, service, and consumption of alcohol.  Whiteman Air Force Base, the University of Central Missouri, the cities of Warrensburg and Knob Noster, and Johnson County are currently members of the WAPIP.   

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For more information, call 573-751-5432 or e-mail mike.o'connell@dps.mo.gov