Basalt cops want help with youth boozing issue |

Basalt cops want help with youth boozing issue

BASALT – Basalt cops say parents have complainged so much this fall about kids partying that they have to take action.But instead of unilaterally deciding to aggressively bust up parties and ticket minors for underage drinking – or, as Basalt Police Officer Penny Paxton put it, “being hard asses” – the cops want direction from the community.The police department has scheduled a community meeting Monday, Nov. 29, at town hall starting at 7 p.m. Police are hoping that parents, liquor store owners, town council members and especially students will attend. The meeting is open to the public.”We want to have our students spearhead this meeting instead of having all of us adults ganging up on them saying ‘Bad, bad, bad,'” Paxton said.Basalt isn’t facing a problem any different than most other small towns in America – past, present and probably future. And there is no evidence that underage partying is any worse in Basalt than in Aspen, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs or Summit County.However, some parents have complained to Mayor Leroy Duroux and Police Chief Keith Ikeda about parties where underage kids were drinking and possibly smoking pot, Paxton said.In some cases there are rumors that parents provided alcohol in homes or allowed the partying to take place.She has been talking to students at Basalt High School to try to gauge the severity of the problem. The reaction has run the gamut from kids who said there isn’t a problem with partying to those who said there is.Jessica Barnes, a senior at Basalt High School and the student body president, said she believes there is a widespread problem with alcohol abuse among Basalt students. She said that problem isn’t acknowledged by students who drink. But students like her, who don’t drink, view partying as a problem.The idea of putting the issue under a microscope has made some students uncomfortable.”I think there’s a negative reaction about it,” Barnes said. “Kids that are being looked at don’t want to change.”Barnes said she believes the community discussion would be most valuable by educating kids about the dangers of alcohol poisoning and drunk driving.”We’re going to come up with something that will help students when they get in that situation because we’re not going to stop drinking,” she said.Paxton acknowledged that it’s not realistic to expect the problem can be solved by cops writing more tickets to minors in possession of alcohol. That’s why she’s making the big push to get kids involved in the discussions.”I said is it just up to the police department to fix this problem? Is that what we as a community want – more tickets?” Paxton said.She said the police department’s position is that underage drinking is illegal and should be avoided, regardless of whether that is realistic. But the police also want to help youth avoid alcohol poisoning deaths that have plagued Colorado college campuses this year and avoid fatal, alcohol-related car crashes that regularly occur.

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