Local law enforcement trained recently in gaining control and dispersing party situations, according to organizers with South Central Human Service Center Region VI.
The training involved health and law enforcement agencies from the nine-member counties, said Shannon Kaiser, substance abuse program coordinator at Central Valley Health in Jamestown and coordinator of the Partnership for Success grant through the North Dakota Department of Human Services. The counties are Barnes, Dickey, Foster, Griggs, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Stutsman and Wells.
"Our officers in town deal with this every day, and this was an opportunity to get them together to reinforce tactics they may already know and maybe learn something new in preventing underage driving in our community," Kaiser said.
Binge drinking rates in North Dakota were 59.2 percent higher than the national average in 2017, she said. A survey showed 80 percent of adults here approve of more drinking age enforcement, she said.
A previous grant addressed the retail side with incentives for bars to confiscate fake ID cards, she said.
The training included juvenile court officers, attorneys and R. J. Elrick, a retired Vermont police officer and program manager of the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center's distance learning project at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Calverton, Md.
A noise ordinance violation is the primary concern of an adult party, Elrick said. With an underage drinking scenario the youth have more to lose, he said.
"When you are dealing with a house full of underage youth you've got those noise issues plus the fact that most of these youth are underage," Elrick said. "So in their eyes they've got something to lose which prompts the desire to try and flee when police arrive, which is what we are trying to prevent with the controlled party dispersal."
The training is designed to allow a smaller number of officers to control a larger group of kids, he said.
University of Jamestown students created a party scenario using a vacant rental house provided by Premium Property Management for the training.
Jack Talley, a UJ freshman prelaw student, said the event was eye opening.
"It just kind of shows you that they (police) are prepared for situations like this," Talley said.
Chief Scott Edinger of the Jamestown Police Department said his officers use similar tactics in dealing with parties. JPD responds to parties when noise or nuisance complaints or other tips come in, he said.
The ongoing concern is that not all families see the issue the same way, he said. There are people who believe providing a safe place for kids to drink and taking their keys is an acceptable intervention, he said.