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Underage drinking

Throughout the Puget Sound area, a number of arrests and accidents have taken place that have been attributed to minor’s consumption of alcohol.

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MONROE — Underage drinking and drug abuse has become such a big problem that the state is now taking a new approach to fighting it.

boozeThe Department of Social and Health Services is identifying the cities with the biggest problems and funneling to them resources directly, instead of spreading money evenly all over the state.

Its newest target is the city of Monroe, and police there say heroin and meth addiction are a major problem right now.

“This isn’t a law enforcement issue as a whole,” Monroe police Deputy Chief Ken Ginnard said. “This is a community issue and we need to partner with everybody in the community to help curb this problem and to get a handle of it.”

Monroe is the latest of more than 50 communities participating in the initiative designed to find ways to deal with the growing problem — like school-based prevention education and counseling.

Cops, educators, even faith leaders gathered on Thursday to come up with a plan to keep kids off booze and drugs.

“There has been abuse with prescription drugs in the past,” added Ginnard. “A lot of prescription drug abuse and that’s been dried up just a little bit, and with that drug of choice going away, heroin is the replacement for that.”

Just spend a few minutes on Main Street and you can see lots of young people with lots of time to waste. Nineteen-year-old Kyle Roetemeyer said he likes to drink beer, smoke pot and shoot heroin.

“Some of those who started earlier, it’s more of a problem for them,” Roetemeyer said. “I have a friend who drinks every day and every time he doesn’t drink his stomach gets queasy and he starts getting sick.”

Roetemeyer is exactly who the group hopes to reach – but he said that he needs a job to keep him so busy that he can’t abuse drugs and alcohol.

“If we got a job and got paid at the end of it, like a work program or whatever, if you stay clean we give you this by the end of this many months,” said Roetemeyer.

Getting kids busy and working could be a start to stopping underage substance abuse — because cops can’t be the only solution.

“Law enforcement and stopping people and writing tickets is not the whole piece of the puzzle,” Ginnard said. “It’s a very small piece of the puzzle.”

There’s a lot at stake. The coalition believes if they can make a dent in underage drinking and drug abuse, they will see reductions in crime, violence, school dropouts and even fewer teen pregnancies.

Local News

Police bust underage party; parents arrested

underage drinkingSEATTLE — Police have arrested a couple after receiving a tip Saturday evening that they allowed their home to be used for a party that resulted in the arrest of 32 underage drinkers early Sunday morning.

On the scene, police also found an unconscious 18-year-old male and called medics. When they arrived, they tended to the male and also removed the homeowner’s daughter from the residence after finding her passed out in her bed, laying in vomit.

The parents told police their daughter told them there would be no alcohol at the party.

The underage drinkers who were arrested were largely from high schools in Puyallup and Emerald Ridge, police said. Most of those arrested were inside the party, but police also arrested four youths who were parked outside the party, and a motorcylcist who tested three times the legal limit to drive.

“You’d think parents would rethink their ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell policy’ when it comes to alcohol use, especially during prom and graduation season,” Puyallup Sgt. Bob Thompson said.

Pierce County’s Party Intervention Patrols incorporate police, chemical dependency professionals and parents in their efforts to curb underage drinking. They said they have reduced the number of impaired teen driving deaths in Pierce County by more than 50 percent since 2007.

SEATTLE — The problem is underage drinking and it happens the most between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

After all, there are graduations and proms and other summertime celebrations. Also, teens are out of school so they are driving a lot more often, increasing their chances of being involved in an accident.

“I had to knock on a door right after a graduation one night and, uh, tell a parent their child was dead.  We don’t want those knocks on the door,” Fircrest Police Chief John Cheesman said.

That is the sad reality, the worst-case scenario and the reason for stepped-up patrols and Zero Tolerance and Target Zero programs all over Western Washington.

Cheesman is also chairman of the Pierce County DUI & Traffic Safety Task Force.

He knows all too well the dangers of drinking and driving, especially where young drivers are concerned.

“Sometimes they don’t see the bigger picture and so we want to educate them as well to make sure they understand that their decisions sometimes have huge consequences and anytime we can save a life or make a difference that’s important to us,” Cheesman said.

The school year just ended and already there are signs of trouble.

This past weekend the Pierce County Task Force Party Patrol busted a huge underage drinking party.

Thirty-two people under 21 were arrested and seven of those were under age 18.

“A lot of them were drunk, we confiscated weed, lots of solo cups.  There were two piles of vomit on the ground, many hard liquor bottles half empty and all these students appear to go to the same school.  Somebody made a bad decision by throwing a high school party for kids with alcohol involved,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ed Troyer said.

The father who threw the party was also arrested and the mother was cited.

“Somebody had been hurt or killed, they would have been responsible. This is just something that’s not OK in today’s society,” Troyer said.

What’s worse early Monday morning, at another alleged underage party, an 18-year-old was taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.

Amy Ezzo is with the Washington State chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

She says parents have to play a greater role in their child’s safety.

“Whether parents understand it, or not, they’re the number one influence on their children’s decisions.  They play an important role in their children’s lives so that’s why it’s important parents have conversations with their kids early and often and alcohol is just one of those really important topics for parents to talk to their kids about,”  Ezzo said.

The bottom line; make a good decision, avoid a bad outcome.

“Make sure you have a plan especially if you’re drinking and if you’re underage, you know it’s illegal to drink make a good decision,” Cheesman said.

Cops say they don’t want to spoil the celebrations; they just want minors to keep it alcohol free, for adults to talk to their kids, never provide liquor to minors and set a good example, never drink and drive.

wet-beer-can-thumb18485238SEATTLE — About 3:45 a.m. Monday morning, the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 from a parent who said their teenage son was intoxicated.

The police chief said that the 16-year-old male had been at a bonfire near his home in the 5400 block of Jackson Highway near Toledo, Wash. The boy’s parents had been called by neighbors who were hosting the bonfire.

The parents told police that when they arrived at the bonfire, the teen became combative with them and he was clearly intoxicated, and that is when they called 911.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they called an ambulance for transport and the boy was taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.

Police said a 20-year-old male was referred to the prosecutor’s office for providing alcohol at the bonfire. The prosecutor’s office will determine whether or not to press charges.

Local News

Party patrol busting teen drinkers

SEATTLE –  It’s graduation season but teens aren’t learning about the dangers of booze. A study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse shows 75% of all high school seniors say they have tried alcohol. Half of them had a drink in the last month.

Those numbers frighten Amy Ezzo. She says parents need to communicate with teens.

“Helping them understand we’re you’re parents. We’re here for you,” Ezzo said.  “We want you to call us and not worry what’s going to happen when you get back home because we want you to get home.”

beerMotorists are now driving into what police call the 100 deadly days of summer, when fatal car crashes spike between Memorial Day and Labor Day. A mix of drinking and driving is a contributing factor.

Five years ago, Stacey Rhodes lost her son, Ryan, in a drunken driving accident.

“He loved life. He lived life literally every day like it was the last,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes wishes she talked with her son more about the dangers of alcohol.

“Have a very good plan set in place,” she said.  “Let them know there are consequences however they still need to call and they’re not going to get in trouble for calling. They need to know they have a safe way home.”

This weekend, cops in Pierce and Thurston counties are on party patrol. Teens caught with booze will be busted and face harsh penalties.

So, whether it’s a message from mom or police on patrol the one goal is to save lives.

Ezzo said, “We don’t want anyone else to have to learn to live with the death of a loved one because this is 100% preventable.”

DrunkDrivingSEATTLE- This is the last week of school for many districts in our area, and that means graduation parties and teen drinking.

Police call Memorial to Labor Day the “100 deadliest days’ on our roads in Washington.  Just last week, Tumwater Police arrested 35 teens and a grandmother for furnishing alcohol to minors.

“Some parents may think if you provide alcohol in your home it means they’re going to be safer.  Studies show kids who drink at home drink more often and in larger quantities away from home,” said Amy Ezzo with Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

A study by the National Institute on Alcohol abuse shows 75 percent of all high school seniors say they have tried alcohol.  Of those, nearly half have had a drink in the last month and one in three teens admit being a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been drinking.

“It’s important they feel they can call and get a safe ride home and someone will be there for them.  No matter what your family rules are, helping them understand you’re their parents and want their child to call and not worry about what’s going to happen once you get home is so important,” said Ezzo.

Law enforcement in Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties plan teen party patrols this weekend.

Here are some helpful tips from MADD for parents:

1. Communicate before a problem starts.

  • Have important discussions now, before there’s blaming, anger or punishments.
  • Agree on a time to start talking together about the dangers of alcohol.

2. Show you care.

  • Gently touch your teen on the arm or back to show affection.
  • Tell your teens you love them and want them to be healthy and safe. Explain that’s why you need to talk together about the dangers of underage drinking.

3. Discuss rules and consequences.

  • Explain how you expect your son or daughter to act, and why.
  • Tell your teen plainly that you don’t want him or her drinking.

4. Pay attention.

  • Even when life gets hectic, take time out to listen to your teen.
  • Monitor where your teen is and what your teen is doing, constantly.

5. Share family activities.

  • Have dinner together at least three times a week.

6. Give and get respect.

  • When your teen talks to you, listen and reply respectfully.
  • Insist that your teen treat you with respect, too.

7. Enforce consequences consistently.

  • If your teen breaks the rules, stay calm and enforce the consequences