Chief Ralph Martin announced that the Santa Maria Police Department has been awarded a $53,397 grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to battle alcohol-related crime.

“This is important to Santa Maria in order to increase protection for youth and to shut down problem locations that have contributed to an increase in crime,” Officer Rick Arias said.

The grant was awarded in California to local law enforcement agencies through ABC’s Grant Assistance Program (GAP).

The grant strengthens local law enforcement efforts by combining the efforts of local police officers and ABC agents. ABC agents have expertise in alcoholic beverage laws and can help communities reduce alcohol-related problems.

“The program improves the quality of life in neighborhoods,” ABC Director Jacob Applesmith said. “We’ve seen a real difference in the communities where the grant program resources have been invested.”

The grant program was created in 1995 to strengthen partnerships between ABC and local law enforcement agencies. The program is designed to put bad operators out of business, keep alcohol away from minors and bring penalties such as fines, suspensions or revocations against businesses that violate the law.

The funds will be used to reduce the number of alcoholic beverages sales to minors, obviously intoxicated patrons, illegal solicitations of alcohol, and other criminal activity such as the sale and possession of illegal drugs.

The GAP program has distributed more than $20 million to local law enforcement to combat alcohol-related crimes.

Chris Nartatez is a sergeant for the Santa Maria Police Department.