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March 16, 2013

Police crack down on drinking at NHS

NEWBURYPORT — Acting on an anonymous tip that at least one Newburyport High School student was selling alcohol to other students, police last October began what turned out to be a months-long investigation into under-aged drinking in and around the High Street school.

In December, the investigation bore fruit with the arrests of two teenagers outside a Crow Lane address. Both teens accepted responsibility and were sentenced earlier this month. Their records will be cleared if they follow the court’s orders.

The arrests are part of the department’s and the city’s continuing efforts to curtail under-aged drug and alcohol use. Founded in 2006, the Beacon Coalition is a multi-faceted group that looks to find solutions to reduce under-age use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Its members include the police department and Newburyport Youth Services.

Through a combination of outreach programs and grant money, the coalition has been effective in combating not only under-aged drug and alcohol use, but public drunkenness, overserving at bars and adults who purchase alcohol for minors. In recent months, police have made a series of high profile arrests and busts as a result of party patrols and alcohol compliance checks inside and around pouring establishments.

Newburyport police are also hoping the addition of the department’s new school liaison officer Gregory Whitney inside the city’s schools will make a dent in not only combating under-aged drinking, but drug use and other hot-button topics.

City Marshal Thomas Howard said he has been very pleased with Whitney’s first few weeks inside the district’s schools especially considering his role has been tailored or redefined since the last time the department was able to deploy an officer there. Whitney has benefited with additional training thanks to a Beacon Coalition grant.

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