Kids routinely exhale into Breathalyzers on their way into high school dances. Or after their cars are stopped by the police. How about a breath test for alcohol after they home Friday night?
“That’s a tool that’s available,” said Police Commission Chairwoman Susan Craig. “Parents may not know you can buy a Breathalyzer for $75 and check your kids — especially if they’re driving.”
Ms. Craig has proposed that the town buy a small stock of home-use Breathalyzers for resale at cost to parents.
“I was thinking, if we had money and we bought 50 Breathalyzers and we said ‘You can buy them at town hall’ — that’s a pretty strong statement,” Ms. Craig said.
The suggestion drew some support at the Police Commission’s April 10 meeting.
There were also concerns. What if a Breathalyzer sold by the town didn’t function right? Could there be lawsuits?
Police Chief Richard Ligi and commission member Carl Lecher questioned whether the sale of gadgets available commercially was the proper role for the police.
Bissell’s, CVS and Rite Aide pharmacies said they don’t carry Breathalyzers, but the Internet has numerous sites selling them.
“I don’t know if I want to start selling things at the Police Department,” Chief Ligi said.
Ms. Craig said she’d seen it as way to draw attention to the idea of parental alcohol testing, and to make breathalyzers easier to get.
“A pilot program, to let people know there’s a way, if you want to check,” she said.
“It raises awareness,” Commissioner Tom Reynolds agreed. “These things are available.”
Commissioners talked about handing the idea off to some other public agency.
“How about the PTA?” suggested George Kain.
Discussion settled on the idea of the Police Commission raising public awareness of home use Breathalyzers, with sales handled by another town agency — perhaps the town clerk’s office, which routinely sells hunting and fishing licenses.
“You don’t even have to go on the Internet,” said Commissioner George Kain. “You can buy one at town hall.”
Chief Ligi thought he’d bring the idea up with the Ridgefield Coalition Against Substance Abuse, made up of town leaders and co-chaired by First Selectman Rudy Marconi and School Superintendent Deborah Low.
“I think the coalition is where this should go,” he said.
“Somebody’s got to get the ball rolling,” Ms. Craig said. “I’d be interested in what the superintendent’s thoughts are.”
“I think it’s a good idea,” Commissioner Reynolds said.
“All I care is people know there’s a tool out there,” Ms. Craig said. “People should know.”