Saturation patrols target underage drinking
In a continuing effort to curb underage drinking, Marion County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition recently sponsored a “saturation patrol” in Hillsboro and Marion in which no juvenile motorists were discovered to be using alcohol.
In a saturation patrol, the number of officers in a specific area is increased with the intent that increased visibility will act as a crime deterrent.
“Increasing law enforcement presence throughout the county,” executive director of Families and Communities Together Ashlee Gann said. “It’s just one of our strategies to help discourage underage drinking.”
A Communities that Care survey given to sixth, eighth, 10th, and 12th graders in 2012 prompted prevention efforts.
In it, a question asked if minors thought that they would be caught if they drank alcohol, Gann said.
The youth surveyed indicated they believed they could get away with it.
Marion conducted its saturation patrol the night of Sept. 6 and 7 and Hillsboro performed their patrol July 26.
During patrols, officers targeted minors but legally could not pull them over unless there was probable cause.
Together they documented 36 traffic stops.
“We had to have a reason, like a tag light or a taillight out,” Marion Assistant Chief of Police Clinton Jeffrey said. “It wasn’t like a DUI check point where everyone is stopped.”
Among 18 stops in Marion, resulted in a warning for driving against age restrictions.
In another stop, Jeffrey said an above-21 motorist was issued a citation for transporting an open container, but was not arrested because a breathalyzer indicated the person was below the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle.
Assistant Chief of Police Jessey Hiebert said Hillsboro chose the weekend of the county fair because of the influx of traffic activity.
“We conducted 18 traffic stops involving juveniles and found no minors, or adults for that matter, to be drinking,” Hebert said. “It was very encouraging.”
Gann hopes other county law enforcement agencies will take part in saturation patrols in the future.
She manages the prevention coalition’s project grant.
She said the grant paid participating officers hourly wages comparable to their regular “on-duty” salary, so cities would not have to pick up the tab.
Last modified Sept. 25, 2014