More officers will be patrolling for underage drinkers at state parks thanks to a grant.
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks officers are making a concerted effort in Douglas County to stop underage drinking on park grounds. Local officers will use a share of a $16,000 state grant to pay for the overtime that officers will work during the stepped-up enforcement effort, which began this month and continues through May.
"It is our hope that through this grant that public areas will not be utilized for underage parties and the youth of Douglas County will have a safe end to the school year," said Aaron Henrichs, the county's wildlife and parks resource officer.
Primary areas of enforcement will be the Douglas County State Fishing Lake near Baldwin City and Clinton Lake, Henrichs said.
"We're going to do some selective (operations) where we pick a night and bring in four or five officers," Henrichs said. "What we'll do is put a boat out on the water and be able to look for parties in the coves and direct officers on the ground to come in from the roads."
As the weather turns warmer, parties involving high school students become more frequent in county parks, Henrichs said. The extra officers will be brought in from nearby counties. Henrichs is the only resource officer assigned to Douglas County. Another roving officer works in Douglas County and four or five nearby counties.
Henrichs said only a few small groups of partiers have been found.
This is the third year that the wildlife and parks department has used grant money for underage drinking patrols, said Jeff Clouser, the roving officer.
No alcohol is allowed at Douglas County Lake. At Clinton Lake and in wildlife areas, 3.2 beer is allowed for those of drinking age but kegs are not.
Underage drinkers generally are cited for having alcohol on state property, which results in a $50 fine, Henrichs said. The alcohol is retained. If no citations are issued, the youths are ordered to dump the beer.
If a juvenile is intoxicated, parents are called, Henrichs said.