In what is becoming an annual tradition, the Metropolitan Police Department will be stepping up its enforcement of underage drinking laws the first few weeks of school in an attempt to scare students straight. Undoubtedly, within the first few days of school several GW students will be arrested, forced to pay up to a $300 fine and spend a night in jail for engaging in underage drinking in the city. And while underage drinking laws are usually enforced more at the beginning of the fall semester, this year poses to be the toughest on record.
The federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention gave the District a $1 million grant to allow officers to work overtime to crack down on underage drinking. This initiative, specifically aimed at catching underage drinkers, should ring clear in the ears of all incoming students. The police are going to be out in force the first couple of weeks – they will be concentrating on busting bars, liquor stores and large parties. Underage students should resist the temptation to go to the traditional GW haunts, as these are sure to be the targets of MPD raids.
While we find it concerning that MPD is able to exert such effort to enforce underage drinking laws in the midst of some of the worst gang violence Northwest D.C. has seen in years, we also understand the necessity to enforce the laws on the books. MPD’s concern that underage drinking leads to other crimes such as assaults and sex offenses is not way off the mark, but it is a little absurd for police officers to devote such a high proportion of their time in pursuit of 20-year-old adults who will drink regardless of police crackdowns.
Underage District students drink throughout the entire academic year, but MPD chooses the same time each year to heavily target these activities. Since MPD admits to the pattern and will have even more officers patrolling this year, students should understand there are consequences of drinking underage, especially during the first few weeks of the semester.