Forty-one law enforcement officers from across the state converged on campus in the Paul E. Johnson Sr. Community Conference Room of the J. Eugene Smith Library on March 27 to learn about underage drinking and how to disperse college drinking parties. The training session, led by Connecticut State Police Sergeant Christopher Bartolotta, was sponsored through the Community Life Improvement Project grant. The Community Life Improvement Project is the first-ever collaborative effort between Eastern and the surrounding community to prevent student alcohol abuse.
Bartolotta discussed underage drinking and the role of law enforcement in preventing underage drinking parties and safely dispersing them when they do occur. He said age matters. "Youth who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence, and two and a half times more likely to become alcohol abusers than those who wait until age 21. College students spend $5.5 billion a year on alcohol, some $466 per student each year. Underage drinking kills 6.5 times more youth than all illicit drugs combined."
Bartolotta said today that alcohol options have changed, adding that Alco pops, iced-beers with higher concentration of alcohol and energy additives "not only encourage greater consumption, but create confusion about what is a drink."
The law enforcement officers were also taught proactive approaches to underage drinking parties that can help to prevent them before they start, and minimize the potential for tragedy and exposure to liability.