Sheriff Grady Judd, Chairman of the Florida Sheriffs Task Force, announces the results of a five week operation aimed at protecting youth in Florida. “Operation Dry Spring,” an initiative conducted by the Florida Sheriffs Task Force, focused on preventing underage youth from purchasing and using alcohol, tobacco and various forms of synthetic drugs. This operation was timed to coincide with the Spring Break season, when many youth experiment with drugs and alcohol.
"The Florida Sheriffs Association has always been committed to keeping our children safe. By partnering with our fellow agencies on the Florida Sheriffs Task Force, we were able to send a strong message this spring break to children, parents, and businesses, that the Florida Sheriffs’ top priority is the safety of our children." - Sheriff Grady Judd
From March 4 – April 7, 2013, Polk County Sheriff’s deputies targeted underage youth in possession of alcohol, tobacco or synthetic drugs, as well as businesses selling these substances to underage youth. This operation resulted in 74 arrests in Polk County, 19 of which were for Sale of Alcohol to a Minor.
The 55 other Polk County arrests are broken down as such:
· 1 for Possession of Synthetic Drugs
· 9 for Possession of Alcohol by a Minor
· 22 for Possession of Tobacco by a Minor
· 23 for Youth Ordinance Violations
During the month-long operation, Polk County Sheriff’s School Resource deputies, along with the assistance of a PCSO Explorer (Explorers are volunteer high school students), checked 264 businesses throughout the county in an effort to combat the illegal sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors.
Of the 264 businesses checked, 245 were found to be in compliance with the Florida beverage laws. As mentioned above, 19 store clerks were arrested for selling alcohol to the volunteer PCSO Explorer.
During the initiative undercover PCSO detectives also conducted business checks throughout the county in an effort to combat the sale of synthetic drugs, and all businesses checked were found to be in compliance.
“We are very proud of the businesses in Polk County who continue to comply with Florida State Statutes by not selling dangerous, illegal synthetic drugs to our children.” – Sheriff Grady Judd
At the heart of Operation Dry Spring was the goal of preventing potential emergency-related incidents linked to alcohol and drug use. In 2010, nearly 190,000 individuals under the age of 21 visited an emergency room for injuries or conditions connected to underage drinking. In addition, the use of synthetic drugs such as bath salts and spice is on the rise with more than 7,000 reported incidents in 2011, compared to some 3,000 in 2010.
“Through Operation Dry Spring, the Florida Sheriffs Task force has addressed an important issue in our state; the safety of our youth,” said FSA President Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton. “The Florida Sheriffs Association is extremely proud of the hard work and dedication from all those that participated in Operation Dry Spring.”
The Florida Sheriffs Task Force pools resources from the 67 Sheriffs’ Offices to address specific areas of concern. The Florida Sheriffs Task Force also is the point of contact for statewide initiatives, including helping to staff the State Emergency Operations Center and coordinating Sheriffs' offices responses to storm-ravaged communities during hurricanes and other disasters.
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The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of Florida’s Sheriffs, approximately 3,500 business leaders and 70,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has quietly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state's law-enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs' Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and continues to support the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches, which manages facilities and programs throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. The Florida Sheriffs Association has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit www.flsheriffs.org.