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Party Intervention Patrols

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Another major way that underage drinkers gain access to alcohol is at parties (e.g., Wagenaar et al., 1993). Party patrols are a local enforcement strategy in which police arrive at a social event in which alcohol is being served and check the age identifications of party participants. Under- age drinking parties frequently involve large groups and are commonly held in a home, an outdoor area, or other public location such as a hotel room. Party patrols are a recommended strategy to ad- dress underage drinking parties (Little & Bishop, 1998; Stewart, 1999). Parties are frequently cited as one of the settings at highest risk for youth alcohol consumption and related problems, and have been linked to impaired driving, sexual assaults, violence, property damage, and to the initiation of alcohol use of younger adolescents by older adolescents (Mayer, Forster, Murray, & Wagenaar, 1998; Schwartz & Little, 1997; Wagenaar et al., 1993). Decreased sales to older minors, in turn, are expected to reduce availability of alcohol to younger adolescents. Without these special patrols law enforcement agencies sometimes do not have enough manpower to thoroughly investigate under- age drinking parties. They cannot always trace who provided the alcohol or other drugs to minors.

Party patrols involve police entering locations where parties are in progress. The police can use noise or nuisance ordinances as a basis for entering a party to observe if underage drinking is taking place. In party patrol strategies, police are enlisted, as a part of their regular patrol duties, to routinely: (a) enter premises where parties that may involve underage drinking are underway, (b) respond to com- plaints from the public about noisy teenage parties where alcohol use is suspected, and (c) check, as part of regular weekend patrols, open areas and other venues where teen parties are known to occur. When underage drinking is discovered, the drinkers can be cited as well as the person who supplied the alcohol. Even when it is not possible to cite the person who supplied the alcohol, awareness of increased police activity in this regard can act as a deterrent and can express community concerns regarding the unacceptability of providing alcohol to minors. As with other environmental interventions, public awareness and media attention is important to increase the deterrence effect of this strategy. There is some evidence that this technique is effective.