CAPE MAY COUNTY’S 31st ANNUAL “WE CHECK FOR 21” PROGRAM IS UNDERWAY
Cape May Court House – The We Check For 21 Program officially started in Cape May County, NJ on Tuesday with three training and information sessions hosted by Cape May County Commissioner Jeffrey Pierson and presented by the Board of County Commissioners at The Wildwoods Convention Center.
This year marks the 31st anniversary of the program that originated in Cape May County in 1993 and has since been implemented statewide. The initiative coined the slogan “If you’re too young to buy don’t even try.” Originally, the We Check for 21 program had forty businesses involved; now 30 years later over 600 hundred staff participated in the kick-off event.
The Training and Information Sessions kick-off featured a Fake Identification Training Session by Joseph Vasil, Identity Document Specialist; and a report on the Memorial Day Weekend Turn-Away program.
Again in 2023 during the Memorial Day weekend, a Card and Count Turn Away initiative was conducted. Under this initiative, nineteen liquor store licensees volunteered to document and report the total number of underage persons who were refused the purchase of alcohol.
This year the data indicates that a total of 214 individuals were refused the sale of alcoholic beverages based on their failure to prove that they were at least 21 years of age. From 2002 through 2023, a total of 6,037 youth were refused purchase.
“The turn away count is even more significant if you assume that each turn away had 2 friends that would have drunk with the individual,” said Pierson. “The number would then triple to 18,111 kids in the past seventeen years who were declined access to alcohol over the Memorial Day weekend. In my view, these numbers are staggering and genuinely reflect the success and impact this campaign has made.”
The We Check For 21 program is a unique collaborative effort bringing together the public and private sectors of Cape May County in the fight against underage drinking. The program has been successful in raising awareness that underage drinking is not tolerated in Cape May County.
Additionally, in recognition of the ongoing opioid overdose crisis the Cape May County, Municipal Alliances partnered with the Cape May County Department of Health, Cape Assist, and the Prosecutor’s Office’s Hope One Van to distribute over 200 boxes of Narcan to participants of the We Check for 21 fraudulent ID training and to the liquor license establishments represented at the event.
The Program is sponsored by the Cape May County Municipal Alliances for the Prevention of Substance Abuse in cooperation with the Cape May County Board of County Commissioners and funded by a grant from the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Others involved in this effort include Cape Assist and a grant from New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Harrison Beverage, the Cape May County Licensed Beverage Association, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Sheriff’s Department, and the Cape May County Chiefs of Police Association.
The Municipal Alliance is a municipal level grassroots organization comprised of community members interested in the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. Statewide, the Municipal Alliances exists in over 500 of New Jersey’s municipalities. The program is funded and administered by the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. For more information about Cape May County Municipal Alliances, please contact the Cape May County Division of Community and Behavioral Health Services at 609-465-1055.