With a new text-a-tip program in place supported by the Stand Strong Coalition, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office is looking to curb underage drinking parties.
Two reported incidents in recent weeks feature allegations that show what officials are up against.
On Sept. 2, sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the 42200 block of N. 7th Avenue in unincorporated Antioch and ended up ticketing a 56-year-old man and a 60-year-old woman for hosting an underage drinking party for their children and their friends, according to the sheriff’s office.
On Aug. 9, the sheriff’s office reports deputies were sent to the 38600 block of N. Pine Avenue in Beach Park and ended up ticketing two 19-year-olds for hosting an underage drinking party.
In both instances, the charges were a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, up to two years of probation and a fine of up to $2,500, according to the sheriff’s office. Bail for the four arrested in the two incidents was $1,500, according to records.
The Stand Strong Coalition purchased a four-year membership to “Tip411,” where anyone can anonymously send a message to the sheriff’s office if they have information about where underage drinking or drug use is taking place.
“As a parent in the community and the Executive Director of Stand Strong Coalition, parents and students tell me all of the time that they know where underage drinking is occurring, and they worry for the youth involved,” said Jamie Epstein in a statement.
“However, they have not found a way to share their tips with police in a way that feels comfortable to them,” Epstein added. “We are pleased to partner with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office to offer parents and youth this tool to do the right thing when they know of illegal and unsafe activity.”
To report a party where underage alcohol consumption and/or drug use is taking place, residents can send a text message to 847-411.
The body of the text message should start with 123TIP, then the tipster can explain the information they want to share, and officials urge tipsters to include as much information as possible. The sheriff’s office will handle calls in the unincorporated area and pass off tips to the appropriate village or city for their police departments to handle.
“Alcohol and drug use impair one’s ability to make decisions. This is true in adults, but especially true in adolescents and young adults,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said in a statement.
“Statistics show us, underage drinking and drug use leads to higher rates of sexual assault, a higher likelihood of being involved in a fatal or serious traffic crash, as well as other negative consequences. We hope this new partnership with Stand Strong Coalition assists us in getting involved before a tragedy occurs,” he added.
According to authorities, parents and others over 18 years can be held criminally and civilly liable for allowing their property — or a hotel room, rented limo, bus, boat or vehicle — to be used for underage consumption of alcohol.
“It is hoped this initiative will discourage parents from allowing underage drinking and drug use to take place, while reducing the number of youth partaking in these behaviors,” Idleburg said.