In an effort to put a stop to underage drinking in Henrico County, Police Chief Doug Middleton told news reporters on Friday that officers are teaming up with the schools and even the Commonwealth's Attorney to tackle the problem.
Chief Middleton was emphatic when he said "If we do catch you, you are going to be charged!" The underage drinking problem being experienced in Henrico is not new, but has been going on for some time. In February of this year, six students at Deep Run H.S. in Henrico County were involved in an incident at a Saturday night dance at the school.
School officials were alerted by off-duty police officers working the event that some students may have been under the influence of alcohol. No arrests were made, and the incident is now under investigation.
Some parents also indicated that the students involved were approached by teachers and asked to leave instead of being detained or turned over to the off-duty police officers. School officials found no evidence that this took place.
With the prom season and graduation right around the corner, school officials are very concerned about the alcohol issue, and plan to send students the message that they "Stay sober, or suffer the consequences."
For alcohol offenses, the school system’s rules call for a minimum 10-day suspension and 30-day ban from extracurricular activities. After the incident at Deep Run H.S., several parents expressed concern that the school didn't come down hard enough on students.
School Board Chairwoman Beverly L. Cocke said, “This is in all of our high schools. It is districtwide, unfortunately, and probably nationwide. It’s a good time for us to re-evaluate what we’re doing and what we can do.”
Students will be made aware of the Henrico Police Department's stance on underage drinking over the next few weeks. It is hoped that the schools, county police and parents will all work together in support of this initiative, and follow through with very stiff penalties where needed.