Number of detoxed students on the rise

? Partying hard on a Friday or Saturday night has landed more than a few students in the infamous “drunk tank.” ? With the number of detoxes steadily rising over the years, officers, educators and programs have been trying to decrease the number of students who engage in high risk drinking. ? A total of 155 students were sent to detox in the fiscal year 2011, according to UVM Police Services. ? This is a significant increase from the 83 students detoxed in 2007 and the 128 students in 2009, according to the UVM Police Services annual report. ? Lieutenant Larry Magnant said this number is only detoxes made by UVM police officers, and the number could be higher by counting the number of detoxes made by Burlington Police and other law enforcement officials. ? The statistics suggest there are 2-3 detoxes a night, Thursday through Saturday, said Captain Tim Bilodeau of the UVM police. ? “[This happens] even though there’s a good deal of prevention and holding folks accountable for possession of alcohol and that kind of thing,” Bilodeau said. ? The bigger issue is all the people falling down that can’t care for themselves and are putting themselves in danger, he said. ? “That’s part of our being out there,” Bilodeau said. ? Liquor law violations have doubled in the last year from 134 citations between July 2010 and February 2011 to 259 since July of last year. ? “It’s absolutely something to address,” said Diana Gonzalez, alcohol education director at UVM. “Alcohol is the number one public health concern for college students, and UVM students fit right in there.” ? Harms associated with alcohol consumption on campus include sexual violence, nonsexual violence and vandalism, Gonzalez said. ? Although this problem is serious and significant, 20 to 30 percent of UVM students don’t drink, and the majority that do take the precautions they need to stay safe, she said. ? “There’s a big chunk of folks that don’t drink and there’s a big chunk of folks that don’t drink all the time,” Gonzalez said. ? Sgt. Allen Fortin of the Shelburne Police Department attempts to combat underage drinking through the local Stop Teen Alcohol Risk Team (S.T.A.R.T.) program. ? The S.T.A.R.T. program has thirteen local departments including the sheriff’s department, state police, liqueur patrol and department of motor vehicles all involved, Fortin said. ? Fortin and his team are asked to come to Burlington’s student-populated “hill section,” every other month to help with noise complaints and enforce any underage drinking, he said. ? The S.T.A.R.T. officers often wear plain civilian clothes so that they do not stand out to students. ? “If you are going to catch somebody, you got to go undercover,” Fortin said. “You know they’re not going to drink in front of you if you are standing there in a uniform.” ? Gonzalez said that when S.T.A.R.T. patrol folks are in plain clothes and not in uniform, it can be off-putting for people; however, the program is still successful. ? “Nationally the research that’s been done on programs like S.T.A.R.T. patrol really are effective in reducing high risk drinking and the harm associated with it, primarily because it makes parties smaller,” she said. ? In some cases, the S.T.A.R.T. team will seal a house that they know is having a party, ask for a search warrant and enter the residence to give out citations to more people than just those on the lease. ? In this way, the officers have had weekends in which they have given out as many as 123 citations in one night, Fortin said. ? Junior Francesca Bennett said she thinks that high risk drinking has been kind of an obsession for people, but when S.T.A.R.T. officers enter a residence, it doesn’t always help. ? “I think it sometimes makes people more mad about the situation, but if the police have probable cause then they have the right to,” Bennett said. ? During the Feb. 18 S.T.A.R.T. raid, 14 tickets for underage consumption/possession were issued and one fake ID was confiscated, a press release stated. ? “We hope through the enforcement … that people are getting smarter and not drinking underage,” Fortin said. “We’d be glad to go out and write no tickets.” ? Fortin said he believes the S.T.A.R.T. program is absolutely a success. ? “If we deter any issue, whether it be loss of injury or loss of life then as far as I’m concerned, it’s a success,” he said. “The more education that we put out there, then the better.” ? Many students said they think high risk drinking is a problem on campus. ? “People just drink too much,” sophomore Kelsey Callahan said. “I’ve seen someone puking, I’ve seen someone passed out in a snow bank before; it’s really dangerous.” ? Callahan said she did not think the University or anyone would be able to help mitigate the issues resulting from over alcohol consumption. ? “Students have to do it on their own,” she said.