Posted October 6, 2004 Atlanta
Communications and Marketing
Contact David Terraso
Atlanta residents have a new tool to help combat underage drinking, the GT SMART Tip Hotline. Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Police Department (APD) announced a partnership today to operate the hotline that allows concerned citizens to anonymously report establishments suspected of serving alcohol to minors and intoxicated persons.
"Underage drinking costs this nation an estimated $53 billion annually in losses stemming from traffic fatalities, violent crimes and other behaviors that threaten the well-being of our youth and our community," said Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington at a press conference announcing the hotline. In Georgia alone, underage drinking costs citizens $517 million in medical care and loss of work.
The hotline will be monitored by Georgia Tech's GT SMART program, a campus-community coalition dedicated to reducing high-risk drinking. The information left by callers will be forwarded to APD's Licenses and Permits Division, which controls alcohol licenses.
"Alcohol sales to underage or intoxicated persons is a lucrative business and a serious problem in Atlanta, but residents often feel afraid to report businesses they suspect of conducting these sales because of potential reprisals, said Marsha Brinkley, project director of GT SMART. "Calling 911 is still the best way to report any crime, but the hotline is a good alternative for residents who wish to report their concerns without having their identity revealed."
Establishing the tipline is just the latest in a series of partnerships GT SMART has formed with the city of Atlanta this year to reduce high risk drinking. In May, the organization and Atlanta City Councilmember H. Lamar Willis announced a free online training program for managers and servers of alcohol in Atlanta to help them reduce underage drinking and sales to intoxicated patrons. More than 182 alcohol servers and sellers have completed the Responsible Alcohol Sales and Server (RASS) training program and another 154 are currently enrolled.
The first of its kind in Georgia, training is available online at any time to alcohol-licensed businesses in the city of Atlanta. Tech hopes to widen the program to businesses in DeKalb, Fulton and Cobb counties later this fall.
"The safety of our students and our communities is our primary concern, said Brinkley. The training program helps establishments develop service policies and teach their staff how to handle situations in which minors or intoxicated patrons are trying to buy alcohol, while the hotline provides citizens with a way to report those businesses who continue to break the law."
The hotline and training program are funded by grants from the Children and Youth Coordinating Council.
"Our goal is to reduce and someday eliminate the chances of another tragedy through increased awareness, community participation and stricter enforcement of the laws, said Pennington. The GT SMART Tip Hotline is a valuable tool for the Atlanta Police Department, Georgia Tech and the people of Atlanta as we answer the call to partner for a better quality of life for us all."
GT SMART Tip Hotline: 404-385-6232
RASS Server Training available at www.gtsmart.gatech.edu