Odessa police cracking down on teen drinking as graduation weekend approaches

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ODESSA, Tx. (KOSA) - Odessa police and other local law enforcement agencies are cracking down on teen drinking as thousands of students get ready to celebrate graduation, but the students aren’t the only ones who could get in serious trouble with the law.

As high school students prepare to walk the stages at graduate, officers and deputies are keeping a close eye on the streets.

“Go out there and have a good time,” Ector County Sheriff Mike Griffis said at a press conference. “Don’t drink, don’t drive.”

Odessa police’s Operation: Social Host is a joint effort with the sheriff’s office and school district authorities that aims to stop underage drinking by breaking up grad parties serving alcohol.

A big part of that effort includes punishing adults who allow parties like this to happen.

Authorities reminded the public at a press conference that Odessa’s social host accountability ordinance has set a $2,000 fine for adults who facilitate parties to let minors drink.

“This creates the mechanism, the avenue if you would, that we can actually go to the root of the problem which was the person that provided the space for the party,” Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke said.

They’re rolling out all this effort because too many times underage drinking results in tragedy.

“It was a day I’ll never forget,” Tera Crossland said.

Crossland lost her son Nathaniel two years ago when he was hit by a drunk driver.

She kept his crashed car to put on display as a solemn reminder of how fast lives can change when drivers choose to get behind the wheel after drinking.

“We need to let the community know it won’t be tolerated,” she said. “The kids need to be an example for the future generations and the adults need to be an example for their kids.”

Crossland said Nathaniel would have graduated this week if that driver hadn’t acted irresponsibly.

That’s why she wants everyone to understand that no party is worth a life.

“It’s not worth it,” Crossland said. “You have the rest of your lives to have fun and you do not want one senseless night to ruin your future or the future of anyone else. Please take it from a mother that would love to see her son walk the stage this weekend.”

Police aren’t the only ones who can patrol the area this weekend.

Anyone can call Odessa Crime Stoppers at 432-333-8477 to report information about minors drinking alcohol this weekend for rewards up to $500.