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Thurston County’s ‘Party Prevention Patrol’ busts underage drinkers

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OLYMPIA –It’s a summertime rite of passage that can turn dangerous, even deadly.

partyGraduation season can be fun, but police say at parties there is often underage drinking.

In Thurston County, the Party Prevention Patrol is out to put a stop to it.

The new patrol, made up of local law enforcement, prosecutors, and counselors, busted up a party in Tumwater Saturday night and made 31 arrests for minor in possession. The 61-year old grandmother who owns the home was also charged with furnishing alcohol to minors.

When asked about the incident, she said, “It’s all blown out of proportion.”

But Jerry Noviello, with the Thurston County Prosecutors office, said there was binge drinking going on and at least one teen was passed out.

“There were a few who were pretty intoxicated,” said Noviella. “There were binge drinking games set up, and it was definitely an alcohol party.”

Noviella said the goal of the party patrol is not to screw up young lives and put a black mark on their records, but to try to get through to them about how dangerous – and potentially deadly – these behaviors can be, especially if they drive.

Between 2007 and 2011 in Thurston county alone, 15 teenagers died behind the wheel, and more than half of them were impaired.

There’s no jail time involved with the party patrol arrests, but the teens do have to meet with a counselor and their parents.

“In these conversations they’re screening for level of use and then providing resources available in the community,” said Noviella.

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