The King County Sheriff Department’s annual Party Patrol began last Friday evening with the goal of curtailing drinking and driving by teenagers.
The patrol, operating from the department’s Maple Valley precinct, will continue for at least several weeks, officials said – and with good results, if past years are an indication. Since the patrols began in 1998, there have been no deaths or serious injury accidents involving juveniles and alcohol in the patrol’s area, a Sheriff Department spokesman said.
Party Patrol is a multi-jurisdictional effort of local police agencies, coordinated by the Sheriff Department. Assistance also comes from the state Liquor Control Board, which sends out several liquor control agents every night of the patrol and helps with undercover compliance checks of business to make sure they aren’t selling alcohol to minors.
In addition to the county, which provides contracted police service for the cities of Covington and Maple Valley, and the Liquor Control Board, city police departments participating in the patrols include Shoreline, Sammamish, Woodinville and Kenmore Police, as well as officers from the Bellevue, Carnation, Duvall, Kirkland, Issaquah, Lake Forest Park, Redmond and Snoqualmie. The State Patrol also is involved.
John Urquhart, a Sheriff Department spokesman, said officers plan to target parties where minors consume alcohol, either in private residences or in rural areas. Sheriff Department deputies will obtain search warrants for residences, if necessary, and have done so several times in the past, he advised.
Anyone under the age of 18 found drinking will be arrested and then released to their parents or booked into the Youth Center. Those between 18 and 21, as well as parents or other adults “providing the premise for the party,” will get a misdemeanor citation and could be booked into jail, Urquhart said.
“My goal here is to keep kids alive,” said Sheriff Sue Rahr. “There are times, like now, where we have to have a firm hand in law enforcement to avoid senseless tragedies.”