Police out in force during homecoming | VailDaily.com

Police out in force during homecoming

Christine Ina Casillas

Students attending homecoming celebrations this weekend should be cautious because, police say, the cops are going to be watching, waiting and potentially citing anyone who violates the law.

Eagle County residents might see more law enforcement patrolling the valley this weekend in an effort to reduce underage drinking.

Law enforcement agencies will be looking for risky behavior, noise complaints and disorderly behavior, said Commander Joe Russell of the Vail Police Department.

“We’ll be watching out for any parties up in the woods or a gathering of kids in the parking lot,” Russell said. “We’re just trying to prevent underage drinking, prevent any accidents – any serious accidents – from occurring.”

Evening patrols, funded by a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation, will be out and about this weekend in attempts to ensure the safety of the students celebrating homecoming festivities at Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley high schools, Russell says.

Vail received the $35,000 grant to help reduce underage drinking in Vail and Eagle County through a series of comprehensive initiatives, Russell said. The grant is a collaborate effort with the police department, the Eagle River Youth Coalition, CARES Group, Inc. and Toucan Research.

The funding also will be used to sponsor a local study of substance abuse patterns by area youth, as well as parent perceptions and consequences of underage drinking, Russell says.

“We have some issues here that we have to work on,” Russell said. “We have some young adults here showing some risky behavior with drinking and driving.”

The extra patrols were activated after a survey of Eagle County students in grades nine through 12 found underage drinking to be above the national and state averages, he said. About 405 students were surveyed, which showed that seniors in Eagle County school are at an elevated risk compared to the community when it comes to drinking and driving.

After the results of the survey were released, the agencies determined the need for a greater law enforcement presence during key events. Weekend celebrations such as homecoming, prom and holidays generate more calls that require more public-safety officials to be on duty, Russell said.

“Whenever there’s a large school celebration, law enforcement will respond to something, there’s always some kind of an event dealing with drinking and driving,” he said.

The weekend enforcement activities will include zero-tolerance enforcement, he said, with citations issued for underage drinking and other violations.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607 or at ccasillas@vaildaily.com.

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