Project offers cash to those who report underage drinking at parties

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MANATEE COUNTY-- Underage drinkers in Manatee County, watch out! The "Party Patrol" is coming after you.

A new grant funded project sponsored by the Manatee County Substance Abuse Coalition is underway. Several school resource officers will be out on Friday and Saturday nights searching for parties where underage drinking is taking place.

"They are targeted to particular areas where students are going to drink socially," said Rita Chamberlain, the project coordinator. "This is a way for us to interfere early on in problem areas with students."

What's even more interesting about this project is that the public is eligible for cash rewards if they call Crime Stoppers to report a party with underage drinking. So far, those who have called in received between $50 and $100.

"The important thing is that people take action and they actually make the phone call," said Chamberlain.

Once officers arrive at the party, those who are underage will have two options. They can either agree to take a counseling program at their high schools, discussing the dangers of underage drinking, or they can face a judge in court.

"We know these things work, but more importantly, we would like to see healthy, educated students graduate in a timely manner and enjoy their lives. Alcohol can mess that up," said Chamberlain.

Officers will also be looking for drugs and tobacco.

Manatee County Crime Stoppers can be reached at: 866-634-TIPS