York County police plan ‘party patrols’ at homes, sand pits to crack down on underage drinking

Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie stands outside the York County Courthouse in Alfred in this March 6, 2013 file photo.
Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie stands outside the York County Courthouse in Alfred in this March 6, 2013 file photo.
Posted Jan. 09, 2014, at 10:55 a.m.

KENNEBUNK, Maine — A York County team of police officers and deputies announced Thursday it plans to launch a series of dedicated patrols aimed at cracking down on underage drinking in Maine’s southernmost county.

The recently formed task force will target homes, sand pits and other locations “known to have frequent gatherings,” as well as holidays or other “high-risk events,” in what it called its 2014 “party patrols,” according to an announcement Thursday morning.

Formed last year, the York County Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Taskforce, as it’s called, is headed by Kennebunk Police Department Chief Robert MacKenzie and consists of 50 police officers from the towns of Biddeford, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, Sanford and the York County Sheriff’s Office.

“We need to work together to make an impact,” MacKenzie said in a statement. “Underage drinking is a statewide problem that has no boundaries. With the support of York County Sheriff Maurice Ouellette, EUDL officers will be able to work together, seamlessly, throughout York County. Such a task force will clearly have a positive impact on underage drinking.”

The group is one of eight such units in Maine federally funded through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

In addition to the party patrols, the task force will increase parking lot surveillance and so-called “Cops-in-Shops” details, in which undercover officers will closely watch activity at liquor dealers and other establishments to root out cases in which minors are attempting buy alcohol.

The group will also continue using a well-established method of testing retailers’ compliance with liquor laws, by enlisting minors who, under the supervision of police, will attempt to illegally buy alcohol from stores or adult customers.

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