The Santa Monica Police Department will deploy extra patrols to crack down on underage drinking at house parties in early June to coincide with graduation season.
The operation, announced Wednesday by the Santa Monica Police Department, is part of a collaborative effort to address the problems related to binge and underage drinking in the community.
“If you are thinking about letting youth at your graduation party drink alcohol, we have a message for you – don’t,” said Santa Monica Police Sergeant Saul Rodriguez. “We are patrolling neighborhoods vigorously to ensure graduation parties are safe and legal.”
A grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will fund extra night-time party patrols, aimed at keeping graduation celebrations as safe as possible. SMPD has been working on the grant in partnership with the Westside Impact Project, a county-funded effort to reduce binge and underage drinking in Santa Monica.
Last year, one in four high school juniors in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) reported having engaged in at least one episode of binge drinking (5 or more drinks in one session) within the previous 30 days (California Healthy Kids Survey).
Fifty percent said alcohol was “very easy” to get. Each year approximately 5,000 young people, under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking nationally including approximately 1,900 deaths from motor vehicle accidents (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; NIAAA).
“We urge Santa Monica residents to keep their graduation parties free from alcohol,” said Sarah Blanch, a manager at the Westside Impact Coalition. “Instead of ending in a ticket or a tragedy, let your graduation celebration be a truly happy event remembered fondly for years to come.”
The Partnership between the Santa Monica Police Department and the Westside Impact Project aims to reduce alcohol-related problems in Santa Monica. In addition to traditional prevention approaches that primarily involve education, awareness and enforcement, the Westside Impact Project is focused on environmental solutions.
In Santa Monica, this means focusing on the behavior of adults who enable underage drinking, such as those that host underage drinking parties and those who sell or serve alcohol to minors.
The Westside Impact Project is funded by the County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Substance Abuse, Prevention and Control. The Project is being implemented by the Institute for Public Strategies, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles County.