Prom season starts in Maine this weekend, and law enforcement agencies are working together to step up enforcement and education around underage drinking.
The Cumberland County Underage Drinking Enforcement Task Force held a press conference Tuesday morning to announce a county-wide effort to prevent risky behavior during prom season.
Police from several neighboring departments have been deputized to make arrests in different jurisdictions. From next weekend until June, grant money will pay for the added enforcement details.
The Task Force is also reaching out to local prom-related businesses, such as flower shops and hair salons, to post prom safety pamphlets where students will see them.
The announcement took place in a community that has taken the underage drinking issue head-on in the last school year.
In the fall of 2014, around 30 Westbrook High School student athletes were caught drinking at a party, but several of them had their punishments lifted in time to play in a playoff football game. That controversy started a conversation in the community, and school leaders say it's taught everyone a lesson about accountability.
"Last year there were some issues that would not have gone away, had they not been addressed," said Westbrook Senior Hannah Smith.
She is getting ready to go to her senior prom this weekend, and is urging classmates to say no to alcohol.
"I think that dialogue saves lives and this is a conversation you have to have," said Smith.
Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts said the enforcement details will continue after the last prom in the area, to curb underage drinking during high school graduation celebrations.