TICONDEROGA - Law enforcement officials are out to crush substance abuse in the Ticonderoga area - literally.
As part of the "Safe Stores" campaign a steam roller was used to crush drug paraphernalia at the Ti trash transfer station recently.
The symbolic gesture was followed by anti-alcohol and drug remarks.
"In law enforcement we often look at cause-and-effect," Essex County District Attorney Julie Garcia said. "What causes crime in Essex County? Most of the crime in our area is by people who are drunk or high; they do stupid things."
The "Safe Stores" program is sponsored by the Ticonderoga-Putnam-Hague Connecting Youth and Communities (CYC) Coalition. It encourages local businesses not to sell alcohol to under-age customers.
The Ticonderoga event was attended by officials from the New York State Police, Essex County Sheriff's Department, Ticonderoga Police Department, the Prevention TEAM of Essex County and others.
Pat Morrison, Ticonderoga Highway superintendent, assisted by providing the stream roller.
"I'd like to thank the retailers in the area for their help," Garcia said. "We've done compliance checks the past three years and compliance is high. I want to thank our retailers for being part of everything we do."
Jamie Baker also spoke, telling of how access to alcohol and drugs landed her in state prison.
The Moriah woman said she started drinking at age 16 and was able to go to bars and purchase alcohol by age 18.
"Drinking and drugs ruined my life," said Baker, who dropped out of school. "Today I'm great, but I always wonder what would have happened if I hadn't used alcohol and drugs."
Baker was convicted of selling drugs and was sentenced to two years in prison. She served 13 months and is now on parole.
Garcia pointed out studies that show people who begin drinking at an early age are more likely to face legal problems as they mature.
"In the cases we deal with, people say they started drinking or using drugs when they were 15, 16 years old," the DA said. "I have not read any probation reports that said they started drinking when they were 21."
Students from the Ticonderoga High School Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapter attended, sweeping up the broken drug paraphernalia after it was crushed.
Ticonderoga Supervisor Bob Dedrick lauded the "Safe Stores" campaign.
"We're on the cutting edge in Ticonderoga," he said. "We're directly attacking the problem (of under-age drinking) facing Ticonderoga. We're sending a message to our entire county and state."
Randy Bevins, a Ticonderoga Police Department officer and CYC member, explained the "Safe Stores" campaign asks local retailers not to sell alcohol of people younger than age 21 and not to sell any item related to marijuana - items such as bong.
"These colorful glass products are lawful to sell, however, they are most often used for the purpose of smoking marijuana," Bevins noted. "It's unlikely that the stores will stop someone from smoking marijuana by not offering these products for sale, but reducing the appeal and limiting access to drug paraphernalia is part of the environmental change needed to reduce drug use."
He also asked stores to participate in the CYC "Sticker Shock" effort that places brightly-colored stickers to beer cartons. The stickers detail the repercussions of providing alcohol to minors. All Ticonderoga stores have participated in each sticker shock program in the past.