Extra officers from the Odessa Police Department and other local agencies will be on patrol this weekend on the lookout for underage drinking parties.
Operation Graduation: Safe Night is a yearly operation by OPD, Ector County Sheriff’s Office, Ector County Hospital District and school district police that will occur from Thursday through Saturday night as teenagers celebrate their graduation this weekend.
“Please understand the Odessa Police Department and our partners do not want to ruin anyone’s celebration,” OPD Chief Mike Gerke said. “We simply do not want to have to tell a parent that their recent graduate has been killed or injured in an accident because of an intoxicated driver.”
Gerke added that any adults found providing alcohol to minors or any minors found in possession of alcohol will be criminally charged.
Lt. Joe Daniels of ECISD Police and Odessa Crime Stoppers said anyone who knows about underage drinking parties going on during the weekend can call Odessa Crime Stoppers at 432-333-TIPS. Anyone whose tips lead to arrests or citations will be rewarded cash, and all tips will remain anonymous.
Adults are able to be charged for underage drinking parties due to the social host ordinance that was passed by the City of Odessa last August. Mellessa Brenem, Director of the Permian Basin Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, said the ordinance gives officers a leg to stand on by being able to target homeowners who host the parties providing alcohol to minors.
“We’re very proud of our law enforcement agencies that work every day very hard to send this clear message to adults that we’re not gonna tolerate it in our community,” Brenem said about underage drinking.
Anyone charged with social host accountability will receive a misdemeanor fine anywhere between $250 and $2,000, and anyone charged with minor in possession can be punished by a fine of $500.