Lawrence task force targets underage drinking this semester
- Aug. 22, 2012
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Lots of college students like to think alcohol is easily accessible and at their fingertips around Lawrence.
But for students hosting parties or those who aren’t yet part of the 21 club, there are numerous law enforcement agencies and a task force directed at keeping alcohol out of underage hands.
The Lawrence Police Department wanted to send that message early, and conducted alcohol enforcement in the Oread neighborhood and areas close to downtown Friday and Saturday.
“When the students get back, we try to pull our resources and set some boundaries,” said Sgt. Trent McKinley, a Lawrence Police Department spokesman. “Lots of times, it’s their first time away from home and they want it to be a big party.”
Officers made arrests or issued citations for 58 alcohol violations, including minor in possession of alcohol, driving under the influence, consuming alcohol in public and use of false identification.
But the Lawrence Police Department is just one entity trying to prevent underage drinking. Lawrence police, along with the KU Public Safety Office, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Kansas Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control are all part of the Fake ID 101 task force, which will target any area where alcohol may be consumed this semester.
“They are out in every different place you can think of that sells or provides alcohol,” said Jen Jordan, the director of prevention at Douglas County Citizens Committee on Alcoholism.
The task force will patrol for underage drinking and check for fake or false identification at bars, liquor stores, house parties and on game days.
For Curtis Yingling, a junior from Andover, a major concern is the consequence for those hosting house parties.
“I’ll go to them, but I’d never have one,” Yingling said. “The risk is just too big. People who aren’t 21 will come and then you’ve got the fine.”
The task force started in 2010 with grant funding, and began patrolling house parties last spring when it issued two citations for social hosting. Last school year, the task force administered 168 minor-in-possession charges and 126 fake identification charges.
Captain Mark Witt, a KU Public Safety Office coordinator for the task force, said students may be eligible for a diversion on their first alcohol violation in Kansas, but second offenses will stay on their record.
“It can follow you into your career,” Witt said. “We want students leaving with degrees, not criminal records.”
—Edited by Emma McElhaney