During this process it was recognized that because the Alcohol Policy Coalition is well known in Utah for advocating for highly controversial .04 BAC legislation, it sometimes hampered the UT SASY Coalition in gaining cooperation for some of its programs. The association also made it more difficult for the program to develop its own identity and name recognition with the public and other potential partners. Eventually, the UT SASY Coalition became a freestanding group. When the project coordinator left the Department of Health in 1999, the Utah Office of Highway Safety took over management of the activity and it was renamed the Save Our Youth Coalition.
The project initially was intended to be confined to Salt Lake County. How-ever, with many coalition members being in state government, stimulation and coordination of activity in other parts of the state also became part of the coalition and coordinator’s charge. Nonetheless, the primary focus of activities was in Salt Lake County.
Since the coalition operated out of a state agency, the program could not so-licit or accept financial donations. Thus, donations to the program had to be in-kind, limiting the avenues the coalition could pursue to garner additional assistance. The Safe and Sober Youth Coalition did not receive any monetary funding other than what they received from the Highway Safety Office in Utah and from the US Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Those funds covered part of the coordinator’s salary, as well as funded mini-grants to implement the Cops in Shops program (overtime for the police officers).
The Community Coalition generally met monthly. Initial meetings focused on discussing a needs assessment, then developing a strategic plan, implementing Cops in Shops, holding focus groups about underage drinking with underage persons, and developing a mini-grant program in the schools for Teen Court activities.
The needs assessment indicated that alcohol was the drug of choice for young Utahans, and that underage drinking was a serious problem, with nearly 40% of youth reporting that they had used alcohol. They found that this was because of general acceptance by society, the perception that it was not a serious problem, and a lack of law enforcement of underage drinking laws.
As a part of the strategic plan, the Coalition decided upon a mission statement and agreed on some general items that needed to be done in Utah.
Strategies that were identified were:
The two areas in which major activities were conducted were in enforcement and youth peer programs.
Five law enforcement agencies in the Salt Lake area originally agreed to participate in the Cops in Shops program, and then 19 additional law enforcement agencies requested information on the program. The other law enforcement agencies received information from the Century Council on how to run the program and received training from officers who were running Cops in Shops operations. Each law enforcement agency operated Cops in Shops differently, according to what worked for that agency. The coalition sponsored meetings between the agencies so they could compare progress and offer helpful suggestions to each other and to programs just beginning operation.
Officers reportedly enjoyed working in this program and store managers generally were grateful to have the officers. It was reported that, previously, store managers dreaded seeing police officers arrive for sting operations, but with the Cops in Shops program, the youth were being punished instead of the store owners. The law enforcement agencies viewed Cops in Shops as a vital program that placed them in contact with the stores and youthful offenders. A law was passed before the project began that allowed officers to cite youths for attempting to purchase alcohol. (It was considered a misdemeanor punishable with a fine.)
Many officers were surprised at the numbers of youths purchasing alcohol (one officer made 27 contacts in 2 ½ hours). The program was an “eye-opening experience” for law enforcement as well as store management. They discovered many of the managers did not want their clerks selling to underage youth, but they could not or just did not keep tabs on their clerks very well; and when officers pointed out some of their problem clerks, managers were grateful and could then deal with those clerks. The Cops in Shops program originally generated a lot of media publicity, but that faded, and although positive statistics and information were been provided to the media, coverage was minimal.
The normal graduation, ribbon week, and December anti-drunk driving month activities were already in place. The Highway Safety Office provided mini-grant money to promote the activities and conduct projects. There were forty-four junior and senior high schools in the area, and one year, 20 schools received mini-grants. Another component of the youth involvement program was the formula-ti on of Teen Courts in which peers meted out appropriate punishments to under-age youth who were found to have been drinking alcoholic beverages.
Time series of monthly counts of these nighttime-crash involved drivers were analyzed using the ARIMA analysis method. The series was found to be stationary without any differencing or transformations. Step function and ramp intervention functions at times near to January, 1996 (the date of program initiation) were examined in the analysis.
The step function intervention produced no effect at any time near to January, 1996. However, the ramp function indicated a gradually increasing reduction of about 0.6% per month starting at January 1997, and reaching a maximum reduction of 14% (about 20 crashes per month) at December 1998. This effect did not meet the traditional requirement for statistical significance (p=0.05), but was significant at roughly the 0.10 level (t = -1.64). The data and the model fitted to the data are shown in Figure 4-1 below.