MANATEE COUNTY – Manatee County Law Enforcement Officers are on patrol, looking for youth abusing alcohol or illegal drugs. The Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition, along with Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, Bradenton and Palmetto Police Departments are teaming up for Party Patrol.
Party Patrol, in its second year, is a project funded by a 4-year, $48,000 federal grant. Beginning in May, School Resource and other officers will seek out parties during two prom weekends, in which underage drinking may take place. They will also conduct operations during the summer, relying on tips from the public that may lead them to those parties.
"They are targeted to particular areas where students are going to drink socially," said Rita Chamberlain, Associate Director for MCSAC. "This is a way for us to interfere early on, in problem areas with students.”
Teens caught with alcohol or illegal drugs have two options: attend a six-week Substance Abuse Family Education program with their parent(s) or face a judge in court. The program acts as an intervention. It identifies and discusses substance abuse and other issues, instead of the youth facing criminal charges.
"The important thing is that people take action and they actually make the phone call," said Chamberlain.
Anyone who wants to report a party with underage drinking or a case of youth substance abuse is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 866-634-8477 (TIPS). Cash rewards are available.
For more information, go to www.drugfreemanatee.org.
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