Task force breaks up parties; 22 arrested

GREENFIELD — Six juveniles and 16 adults were arrested over the weekend after the Hancock County Underage Drinking Task Force broke up two parties in New Palestine.

Tim Retherford, director of the Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse, which helps fund the task force, called the high number of arrests disappointing. He said he hopes the four parties busted in the past three weeks will not be an indication of how teens will choose to spend their summer vacations.

This weekend’s parties brought the total number of students arrested recently on alcohol-related charges to 45, he said.

During Memorial Day weekend, 23 people were arrested at parties in New Palestine and Greenfield.

“Summer is here; kids are out of school with a lot more free time and more opportunities to make poor decisions,” Retherford said.

The task force was put in place by Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse in 2013 and is made up of officers from all law enforcement agencies in the county.

Since it began, the group has been responsible for nearly 200 arrests.

Those arrested this weekend were jailed on a range of charges, including minor consumption, minor possession of alcohol and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Students took to social media to vent some of the frustrations with the task force knocking on their doors, even creating an @StopTaskForce Twitter handle.

These actions only show that the group has had an impact in the community, Retherford said.

In 2014, a survey taken by high school students showed 18.6 percent of the county’s class of 2015 reported consuming alcohol in the 30 days before the survey. The figure is down from 21.3 percent a year earlier.

Retherford said it will be a few months before the 2015 surveys results became available, but he wouldn’t be surprised if those drops continue.

Recent weekends have been busy with parties as students celebrate milestones like prom and graduation, but for the most part, the spring has been quiet.

“I think (students’) frustration shows that young people aren’t having the access to alcohol that they used to,” he said.

“We are just here to encourage kids to make better decisions.”

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.