DCF Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Rob Siedlecki recently observed the Party Patrol, an initiative funded in part by DCF’s federal Collegiate Success Initiative grant for Leon, Hillsborough, Alachua and Orange counties. The patrol goes out regularly and makes sure drinking laws are enforced.
I recently hit Tallahassee’s “Tennessee Strip” with the city police department’s Party Patrol. For those of you who aren’t from the Capital City area, the Tennessee Strip is a main road near the Florida State University Campus with bars frequented by college students. We were on the streets from 11 p.m. – 4 a.m., which is prime party time. It was even more crowded and rowdy because it was an FSU football night.
When we went into a bar or club we’d walk up to someone who looked to be underage and ask for their ID. We confiscated a few fake ones, but most of the people were over 21. While walking the street we looked for people with red Solo cups that might be filed with alcohol, which is against the open container law.
Only one person was arrested that night, and that was because he was belligerent and tackled the police. Everyone else – the bouncers, bar owners, kids (even the ones who admitted to being underage) were polite.
This effort accomplishes four things:
- Prevents underage drinking
- Prevents drunk driving
- Protects kids from getting drunk and wandering into unsafe locations/situations
Recently the Party Patrol noticed a young female student being helped to a car by a young man at a bar. She appeared extremely intoxicated. We stopped them to investigate and it turned out the male did not know the student. The student kept calling him her boyfriend. In the end, the male was charged with drug charges and resisting with violence. The student was transported to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. A few days later she called the police to thank them. She had thought the person she was going home with was her boyfriend. When I described the male escorting her, no one she knew, she was horrified. Our young student is convinced we prevented her from being sexually assaulted, or worse.
If you notice someone intoxicated or in need of help, please call 9-1-1. If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse issues, please visit our website to find resources in your area.