CHICAGO—In response to the tragedy that took five young lives in Oswego last month, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich announced today he will expand the state's effort in cracking down on those who provide alcohol to minors by introducing the TrAIL (Tracking Alcohol in IL) and Don't Be Sorry programs to Kendall County.
“Like any parent, my top concern is making sure my kids are safe,” says Gov. Blagojevich. “I can't imagine the pain and anguish of parents who lose their children. What happened in Oswego last month was devastating, not just for the families impacted, but for the entire community. Their tragedy should motivate all of us to do everything we can to make sure our young people are safe, and to help them make good decisions. The TrAIL program does that by bringing together state resources to crack down on those who help minors get alcohol and helping reinforce the responsibility we all have prevent underage drinking.”
Funded through a $100,000 traffic safety grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), this Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) initiative is designed to target alcohol sources in underage drinking-related fatalities and injuries. To complement the increased law enforcement in these counties, the Governor will also expand the state’s Don’t Be Sorry campaign to educate teens, parents, and liquor retailers on the consequences of underage drinking and providing alcohol to minors.
“Underage drinking affects us all; whether you are a parent, teenager, or business owner,” says House Minority Leader Tom Cross, who represents the Oswego area. “Modeling responsible behavior will go a long way toward keeping our kids safe.”
Adds State Senator Linda Holmes: “TrAIL enables law enforcement to pool their resources and serve Kendall County's ever-burgeoning population at an even higher level of response.
With state and local law enforcement working together, the residents of one of the ten fastest growing areas in the United States can be assured that those who provide alcohol to minors will be held accountable.”
Under the TrAIL program, a special investigation is conducted when underage alcohol consumption is suspected in an incident—such as a car crash, underage drinking party, alcohol poisoning/overdose, sexual assault or other event—that results in injury or death. If the above criteria are met, first responding officers will call a 24-hour hotline number to deploy a TrAIL investigator, who will assist in the collection of evidence and determine where the alcohol was purchased or served.
“I feel TrAIL is another resource that will aid in the apprehension and education of alcohol use and abuse by children,” says Chief Dwight Baird of the Oswego Police Department. “I hope that this will help children make better decisions before alcohol use becomes a problem. We want adults to know that if you sell or provide alcohol to a child, you will be caught and prosecuted. Zero tolerance is our practice.”
In addition to Kendall County, the TrAIL protocol has been activated in the following seven other counties: Kane, McHenry, Sangamon, Jackson, Whiteside, Carroll, and Jo Daviess. Just last week, four people were subsequently arrested in the Jo Daviess town of Stockton after a double fatality car crash due to underage drinking. “The TrAIL Program was invaluable in assisting the Stockton Police Department in apprehending the individuals responsible for providing the alcohol,” says Detective Sergeant. La Don Trost of the Stockton Police Department.
“TrAIL gives us another tool in our arsenal to combat underage drinking,” says Kendall County Sheriff Richard Randall. “For example, we can call upon special agents from the Liquor Commission's to conduct inspections of licensed liquor establishments without a warrant.”
In the end, Kendall County State's Attorney Eric Weis believes TrAIL will aid his office in the prosecuting of cases. “By assisting law enforcement in the gathering of evidence quickly, we increase the likelihood of making the charges stick.”