True or false – some Throggs Neck kids begin drinking alcohol in the fourth grade. Shocking but true, Janit Bliss of the Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership said.
Bliss’ group, dedicated to curbing alcohol and drug abuse since 1998, will sponsor an alcohol training awareness program for Throggs Neck merchants in late March.
TNCAP is asking neighborhood bartenders and shopkeepers to help prevent underage drinking and drunk driving.
“We want all the merchants to get on board with this program,” Bliss said. “Underage drinking leads to truancy, poverty and crime. Where there’s graffiti, there’s drug and alcohol paraphernalia.”
According to TNCAP surveys, home is the number one source of alcohol for neighborhood kids. Bars and delis serve young drinkers too, via older siblings or what Bliss calls “shoulder-tapping” – begging adults shoppers to buy the booze.
March’s alcohol awareness training program will teach bartenders and shopkeepers how to spot fake identification and head off dangerous drunks. TNCAP’s Julia Geronimo will lead the New York State Liquor Authority approved program.
“We’ll go through vignettes,” said Geronimo. “Then review what the server in each vignette did right or wrong.”
The program will include useful tips. For example, authentic drivers licenses bend, Geronimo said. Most fake licenses don’t. Geronimo will cover over-serving as well.
She’s hoping at least 15 merchants will sign up for the program, which TNCAP has sponsored before. There are about 75 liquor-purveyors in Throggs Neck. Linda’s Place has signed up for a refresher course.
“I want to send my whole staff to the training,” said Linda’s Place manager Edward Maloney. “If somebody walks in and they’ve had too much, I don’t want them to be served.”
Maloney doesn’t stand for underage drinking.
“I tell my staff, ‘If I’m not here and a kid is served, you’re going to pay the fine and you’re going to be taken in just like a criminal,’” he said.
The program is a win-win for merchants, Bliss explained. After completing the program, merchants become eligible for insurance breaks.
For years, SUNY Maritime and TNCAP offered merchants discounted ID scanners, thanks to a state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services grant. The grant ran out in September 2008.
TNCAP hopes to find new funding. Of bartenders and shopkeepers cited for serving kids, Geronimo said, those who use ID scanners fare better in court.
“Nearly forty-four percent of high school students are drinking alcohol,” state Senator Jeffrey Klein said. “And fake IDs are helping them do it. I commend TNCAP for protecting our young people, and applaud participating merchants for their commitment to both the law and the community.”
Klein favors an expanded Dram Shop Act, said Bliss. The Dram Shop Act holds bartenders responsible for damage incurred by their patrons. Klein has proposed legislation that would amend the law to include parties involved in the manufacture and sale of fake IDs.
Monsignor Ivers, Pastor of St. Frances de Chantal Parish, P.S. 72 parent coordinator Veronica Brugman and TNCAP’s Loretta McKnight addressed the Throggs Neck Merchant Association on January 28.
TNCAP’s training will run from 8:30am to 1:30pm or 1:30pm to 6:30pm at TNCAP headquarters – 2789 Schurz Avenue. To register, contact Geronimo at 718 904-1333, extension 28.