Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sheriff Puts Lid on Late-Night Parties

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sheriff Puts Lid on Late-Night Parties

Article excerpt


Clay County's school resource officers have a special assignment: They are spending nights -- especially on weekends -- trying to curb late-night partying by youths.

"We're going to take back the streets," Sheriff Rick Beseler told deputies assembled Friday night, just before they fanned out across the county to look for underage drinkers.

Numerous school and other incidents of vandalism occur between 1 and 4 a.m., and some can be attributed to drinking, the sheriff said.

"Kids are running wild," he said.

What sparked Beseler's stepped-up patrol was an open house, bring-your-own-beer party that stretched from the late night of May 26 to the early morning hours of May 27. Some who had attended the party left, with one of them managing to enter a car and start it. Another boy got in front of the vehicle to try to keep driver from leaving. The boy was run over and dragged about 40 feet. When the others yelled for the driver to stop, he put the car in reverse and ran over the victim again. The boy was seriously injured. All had been drinking, Beseler said.

"All these kids, 14, 15, and 16 years old, should have been home in bed, not out in the streets at 4 a.m.," he said.

The plan has three targets: those selling or serving alcohol to minors; open house parties, especially with an adult allowing drinking by minors; and youths out past curfew.

With the assistance of undercover agents from the state Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco's Jacksonville office, Clay deputies went to convenience stores to see if clerks would sell alcohol or cigarettes to a minor. Other officers patrolled neighborhoods looking for large congregations of youths -- usually a sign of an open house party. In the early-morning hours they looked for youths 16 or younger out past the 1 a.m. curfew set by county ordinance.

That rainy night, three people were charged:

John Alan McCarty, 19, of Orange Park was charged with sale or giving alcohol to persons younger than 21, at a residential party with alcohol and minors present. Some of the youths had been drinking, reported Lt. …

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