The cycle starts again.
Thousands of new Kansas University students made it to Lawrence in recent days for orientation and classes.
Now a group aimed at curbing underage drinking hopes to leave an early impression about stopping another cycle that often involves a new set of underage drinkers.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces coming to town with freshmen coming here,” said Jen Jordan, a member of the Draw the Line Lawrence Coalition, which includes several area law enforcement agencies. “We want them to be aware of how our community feels about it.”
The group is stressing the importance of a series of special patrols in bars, liquor stores and in neighborhoods, plus recent prosecutions involving city and state social hosting laws.
Three people, two who were 18 and one 16, were prosecuted in the last year under social hosting laws after law enforcement broke up a party with underage drinking. Parents were not there in all three incidents, Jordan said.
“We just want for them to realize that people did get caught, and they’re going to be out again looking for house parties and looking for underage drinking,” said Jordan, who is also director of prevention for DCCCA Inc.
The penalties can be costly.
A 16-year-old girl received a diversion through the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office for a New Year’s Eve party, and her diversion costs included a $2,000 fine plus court costs. The other two cases involved 18-year-old high school students who threw parties. One received a diversion in Lawrence Municipal Court and was ordered to pay diversion fees of $1,000. The other case was in district court, and it involved $1,510 in fines and court costs.
All three also had to complete community service requirements, and Jordan said she hoped the incidents would raise awareness with both parents and students.
“We really want to encourage parents to sit down early and say, here are my expectations, here are the rules, and here’s what’s going to happen,” she said.
The coalition, law enforcement and KU officials also took some preventive measures last week and distributed “good neighbor” packets in the Oread neighborhood and at apartment complexes to spread the word about laws on noise and other issues.
Law enforcement officers also will continue the Fake ID 101 initiative. They deploy plainclothes officers at liquor stores, bars and in neighborhoods where parties often occur. The patrols also occur around special events, like KU football game days.
Officers with the Kansas Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, Lawrence Police Department, KU Public Safety Office and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office work together.
“I think some students or some young people have seen the enforcement,” said Sgt. Trent McKinley, a Lawrence police spokesman. “They’ve changed their behavior, and they don’t want to be on the receiving end of a citation.”