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Originally published: 2013-05-15 16:34:15
Last modified: 2013-05-15 16:34:15

Local law enforcement prom vigilance above and beyond

The Watauga County Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative would like to express its sincere appreciation to School Resource Officer Bill Hartley and his team of four law enforcement officers from the Boone Police Department and Watauga County Sheriff's Office for their extra efforts to prevent the harmful effects of underage drinking and substance abuse during Watauga High School's prom. 

Through a contract provided by the WCSAPC and federal funding from the Drug Free Communities grant, Hartley and his team organized a preventative effort to reduce youth access to alcohol during prom weekend.  

Between the hours of 3 p.m. and midnight on April 27, these officers were dispersed across the community to speak one-on-one with employees in restaurants, grocery stores and hotels, informing them that is was prom weekend and asking them to be on high alert for youths who may be trying to purchase alcohol underage.  

Together, these officers were able to visit more than 70 area businesses to encourage them to be vigilant in their service to young people. Officers also visited one private residence where they heard a party might occur in order to prevent potentially harmful consequences. Additionally, this team of law enforcement officers was on hand to provide foot patrol, parking lot surveillance and extra security inside the prom.

Hartley and his team went above the call of duty to keep our community safe. We commend Hartley in his service to prevention, intervention and enforcement efforts to prevent underage alcohol and drug abuse while maintaining an exceptional partnership with the collaborative and a very positive relationship with youth. 

Underage drinking is a serious and often underestimated concern in our community. Because alcohol is a legal substance, many parents, youths and community members believe that it is not harmful for people younger than the age of 21 to consume it. 

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, youth who start drinking younger than age 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse later in life than those who begin drinking at or after 21 years.
 Thank you again, Officer Hartley and BPD and WCSO officers for going above and beyond to ensure Watauga High School's prom weekend was safe and enjoyable for all. 

Angela Hagaman and Hollie Storie, chairwomen Watauga County Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative