Tip line call leads to 10 arrests at New Pal party

FORTVILLE — A tip called into CrimeStoppers led to the arrest of 10 people accused of underage drinking Saturday at a party in New Palestine, reports show.

It’s the sixth party broken up by a special patrol team since the beginning of the year, marking 32 underage-drinking arrests, according to nonprofit Neighborhoods Against Substance Abuse, which funds the Hancock County Underage Drinking Task Force.

County law enforcement officers received a tip from the Marion County CrimeStoppers tip line that a party with underage drinking was taking place at 3467 S. Overlook Pass, New Palestine, said Maj. Brad Burkhart, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department.

Officers from the Fortville, Cumberland and New Palestine police departments, as well as a deputy from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, were dispatched to the home after receiving the tip, where they spotted people sitting at a table with alcohol bottles in view, according to police reports.

Thirteen people at the New Palestine home were given portable breath tests to measure their blood alcohol level; 10 were arrested, and three people were released. Illegal consumption of an alcoholic beverage by a minor is a Class C misdemeanor, according to court documents.

Those arrested Saturday were: Anna L. Corner, 19, 302 Harvard Place, Indianapolis; Bridget D. Delaney, 19, 3640 S. Applegate Drive, New Palestine; Haley Drewes, 19, 3467 S. Overlook Pass, New Palestine; Wyatt D.B. Howell, 19, 6727 Springer Ave., Indianapolis; Narongchai P. Khonwai, 19, 424 Van Buren St., Greenfield; Lex J. Martin, 19, 1416 N. Chester Ave., Indianapolis; Sean M. Murphy, 18, 6102 East St. Joseph St., Indianapolis; Samuel J. Rasp, 20, 209 S. Downey Ave., Indianapolis; Alexandra M. Rebein, 19, 306 N. Ridgeview Drive, Indianapolis; and Lea R. Thompson, 19, 6524 Lowell Ave., Indianapolis.

As of Monday morning, all 10 had been released from the Hancock County Jail, Burkhart said. A hearing for the defendants is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 19 in Hancock County Superior Court 2.

The underage drinking task force, created in 2013, comprises more than 30 officers from every law enforcement agency in the county. Together, they put extra manpower on the streets, coordinate with school officials to share information about rumors of parties and educate teens about the dangers of binge-drinking.

Since its inception, 327 teens have been arrested for underage drinking because of the task force’s efforts, officials said.

Retherford said he believes the team’s message is being received by most teens in Hancock County, as the number of underage students being arrested for consuming alcohol before they’re 21 is shrinking.

When the task force first began its patrols, police were arresting dozens of teens at time, Retherford said.

But as word of the task force spread, the parties became smaller. Annual surveys of local high school students suggest the number of students who drink alcohol is dropping, Retherford said.

In 2013, one in five high school seniors reported using alcohol; now those statistics are fewer than 1 in 10, he said.

“Our hope is the students understand we have party patrols out during graduation time and prom time,” he said. “We feel like (NASA) is becoming a prevention tool so teens will quit drinking.”

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.