Monday, March 5, 2012

“Teen Angel” Campaign to Curb Underage Drinking Under Way in Overland Park

During spring break and the months leading up to prom dances, graduation, and parties, officers in plainclothes will deploy on key nights for the sole purpose of identifying and arresting minors who consume alcohol. Additionally, officers will target anyone who provides alcohol to underage persons.

“Officers working the Teen Angel program have been directed to aggressively enforce all underage drinking laws. Some may remember a time when officers who encountered minors consuming alcohol would have them pour it out, and send them on their way with a stern warning. Not anymore.” said Sgt. Eric Houston, “Consumption of alcohol by minors is recognized as a serious problem in the community and is dealt with accordingly.”

One of the primary targets of the Teen Angel program will be underage drinking parties. Sgt. Houston explained, “In the past, we have encountered parents who are under the mistaken impression they can safely host a party where minors are consuming beer and other liquor. This is a very dangerous situation and one in which the hosts can find themselves in serious legal trouble. We are specifically on the look-out for these parties and will hold the appropriate individuals responsible.”

“We will have plainclothes officers working in areas where alcohol is purchased, including liquor stores, convenience stores and bars. The majority of these establishments are diligent in their efforts refuse sales to minors, however there are exceptions, and we will try to find them,” Sgt. Houston said.

Anyone under the age of 18 will be charged through Johnson County District Court; while those 18 and older may be charged through the Overland Park Municipal Court.

The Kansas Department of Transportation awarded the police department a $19,599.00 grant for the purpose of Enforcement of Underage Drinking laws. The Overland Park Police Department has used the Teen Angel program for more than ten years to educate the public about the dangers of underage drinking. The grant will also help build partnerships with retailers and the community, and increase the opportunity to apprehend violators of underage drinking laws and those who provide alcohol to minors.