Officials warn of consequences for underage drinking

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

High school graduation marks passage into the adult world, but law enforcement and parent groups want teens to remember it isn’t a license to drink.

It is common for police to spend their time responding to parties the night of local graduation and even the weekends before and after, as they see an increase in underage partying. And not just from local youth, but also teens from outlying communities who come to Clovis to celebrate their graduations, police Capt. Patrick Whitney said.

“Mainly parents need to know where their kids are at, not where their kids tell they are going to be,” he said.

Teens tend to have parties in local hotel rooms and police are often alerted by the noise and shenanigans that result.

For those teens under 18 who are caught drinking, officers contact parents to pick them up. For those who are over 18, they can go to jail, Whitney said.

“That’s what we deal with are loads of parties with alcohol and drugs in the motels,” he said.

“That tends to be the biggest issue. … (And) because of the circumstances with them drinking and at these parties and stuff, definitely the potential’s there that we’re going to have crashes.”

State and local police plan to conduct check points and saturation patrols throughout the weekend, will be on hand during ceremonies and will have a heightened awareness of graduation.

Capt. Jimmy Glascock, local state police commander, said his officers have increased their DWI enforcement in recent months.

One aspect officers focus on in any investigation into underage drinking is determining where the alcohol came from.

“We definitely want to discourage adults from providing alcohol to minors,” he said.

“I think it warrants a reminder that it’s a felony to do so and as always, we will conduct source investigations to attempt to locate how a minor received alcohol.”

A Clovis group of parents and volunteers has also organized a party for graduating seniors to give them an alternative to partying with alcohol or drugs.

Penny Bailey, one of the volunteers on the committee for the Cat Grad Night committee, said they are hoping to start an annual tradition with the lock-in, Las Vegas style fest.

Seniors will be admitted into the teen club Kaotic starting at 9