Carrollton police departments are turning to social networking to stop underage drinking parties before they start.
Lt. Doug Mitchell said officers have ways to look at Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. He trains officers across the state how to find out in advance about teenagers' party plans, although he didn’t want discuss his specific techniques.
Once Mitchell and his team learn about a party, they let the teenagers' parents know.
“You show them the party flier, and they go, 'Oh, my God,' and you go, 'OK, let's talk about it,” he said.
But when police don't hear about parties beforehand, they use a new approach to break up revelries already in progress. Instead of showing up with lights and sirens blazing they knock on the door and offer to call the teenagers parents to pick them up.
This way, teenagers who have been drinking don't run out to their cars and get behind the wheel when they hear officers arrive, Mitchell said.
Since Carrollton started its program, no teenagers have died in a drunken-driving crash -- proof that the approach works, Mitchell said.
“If we weren't doing this, we would be losing kids," he said.
But residents have mixed reactions to the program.
“Kids are going to party no matter what, but if they’re keeping kids safe, great,” parent Brenn Miller said.
“It's a good effort, but I just don’t think it's going to work,” Danielle Sparks said.