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April 8, 2011

 

Police train at mock party

Agencies hold first coordinated underage drinking enforcement training at college

By ANTHONY BORRELLI
Staff Reporter
aborrelli@cortlandstandardnews.net

One student was passed out with a liquor bottle in hand when police officers broke up the party, fending off the rantings and protest of the inebriated hostess.
One underage drinker made a dash for the door, but was wrestled down and handcuffed.
The party was not real, the students did not have alcohol and were not underage drinkers. But police officers performing their training exercise Thursday on the SUNY Cortland campus had to handle it like the real thing.
Cortland County’s first collaborative party patrol training, run in part through the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, was geared to show officers from local police agencies a few new ways to handle underage drinking enforcement.
College volunteers who work in the SUNY Cortland Emergency Medical Squad played the “drunks.”
“It’s an interesting way to see how police respond to the situation from the side of the drunk people instead of from the people helping the drunk people,” said John Carlisle. He played the drinker who tried to flee.
With high school prom and summer concert season coming up, the timing was right for training on dealing with underage drinking, said Kimberly McRae Friedman, assistant director for Seven Valleys Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.
In a recent statewide survey of 92,000 students, 51 percent of Cortland County’s senior high school students said they used alcohol in the 30 days before the survey, McRae Friedman said — 2 percent higher than the state average of underage drinking.
Cortland is a college town, and local police agencies routinely handle underage drinking incidents – both on and off campus. Bill Patterson, senior program manager for law enforcement with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center, talked strategies Thursday with local officers for better ways to break up parties.
“Normally when they (police) get called to a party or noise complaint, they go up to the door and most of the time say: ‘Hey, keep the noise down. If we have to come back we’ll take action,’” Patterson said. “They don’t know further to say if this is an underage drinking party, if we’ve got kids in there that are passed out.”
Patterson said parents often associate underage alcohol problems with just drinking and driving, but it can carry other fringe problems like date rape or assaults.
“Either in this town or close by, you’ve had alcohol poisonings at parties and this is the thing we’re trying to prevent,” Patterson said.
Parents are urged to monitor their liquor and medicine cabinets, be aware of what their children are doing and who their friends are, set times they are expected home and know how to recognize signs of alcohol abuse, McRae Friedman said.
Cortland County Sheriff’s deputies, city police officers, state troopers, and officers from other local police agencies participated at Thursday’s demonstration.
A grant from the state Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention funded the training. Future programs will be held, depending on more grant funding, McRae Friedman said.

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