Chesterfield Police getting national attention for program

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – Cities across the country want to be more like Chesterfield. The county's program to combat underage drinking is getting national attention. It's even on the White House's radar.

It's the compliance checks in Chesterfield that people are going after. Chesterfield Police will routinely come into a corner store with a teenager who will try to buy beer. This program has decreased the number of teens able to get alcohol. And it's those results that communities across the nation want.

If you grab a six-pack from the cooler, have your ID ready. Store clerk Lisa Burnett will ask for it.

"I'm not getting in trouble for somebody else," Lisa said.

The 20-year corner store clerk has seen and heard it all.

"When you card them, they just say I don't have my ID with me," she said.

When teens try to pull one on her, she shows them the door.

Melissa Correa: "20 years and not one illegal sale?"
Lisa Burnett: "Nope." 
Melissa Correa: "Like to keep it that way, huh?"
Lisa Burnett: "Yeah."

Lisa knows she can lose her job if she sells to a minor, and she knows this man, Wayne Frith is watching.

"40% of our seniors that graduate from high school report they're drinking on a fairly regular basis," said Frith.

He heads SAFE, a substance abuse prevention program. Four years ago SAFE teamed up with Chesterfield Police which run compliance checks.

"The first year we did it, it was a 75% rate of compliance. We're now at 93%," he said.

That high compliance rate has put Chesterfield Police and safe in the national spotlight. Jurisdictions across the U.S. have asked them how to start those compliance checks. In fact the White House has taken notice.

"The White House executive office of national drug control policy has been in touch with us," Frith said. "New York City is interested in how we do it."

The undercover stings aren't original, but the posters, stickers and training safe provides for store clerks are.

"Train your staff! We promise, we are coming again!" Frith said.

Police do three compliance checks a year, checking on 400 stores. To learn more about the partnership between Chesterfield Police and SAFE, click here.

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