Police Target Underage Drinking - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/04/04

Police Target Underage Drinking

Imagine the trouble teens could get into if they had possession of beer, whiskey, rum and vodka. Last weekend 60 teens got into all sorts of legal trouble. Windy Swetman was part of the task force that broke up two homecoming parties.

"With heightened awareness, with all these kids with the binge drinking and overdoses, we just stepped up the enforcement," he said.

Swetman heads up Harrison County's school resource division. He thinks teenage drinking "is an epidemic." For the past four years, one of his duties has been to bust teenage drinking parties.

"Every year we've increased more and more and more," he said. "And the amounts of alcohol we're seizing are more and more and more."

Swetman's team recently formed a task force with Biloxi police and the Attorney General's office to break up a variety of post homecoming parties. During one underage drinking bust, officers confiscated a video camera. He showed WLOX News what was on the tape.

"This is a drinking game that they're playing," he said. "And they start kidding about how kids die from this. 'Hey this is a new extreme sport,' that's what the kids on the video calls it. And they're joking, making fun of it. And he's taking a fifth of Crown and just downing that fifth of Crown."

Swetman poured last weekend's confiscated beer into Gulfport's drainage system. As he disposed of the alcohol, he served up this warning to underage drinkers.

"They're going to have to be responsible. And they need to understand that if they choose to do this, then there are going to be consequences," he said.

Harrison County issued citations to the students they caught with alcohol last weekend. If a justice court judge finds them guilty, they could pay a $250 fine. And they could lose their driver's license for 30 days. Kids under the age of 16 end up in family court.

by Brad Kessie

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