Although police in Frederick County patrol for all manner of crimes, including underage drinking, Todd Crum — with the help of the underage party tip line — hopes to give officers an added hand in curbing incidences of imbibing minors.
“Law enforcement is only as good as what they see,” said Crum, substance abuse prevention coordinator with the Frederick County Health Department. “If we can act as their eyes and ears, we can help them.”
The tip line — 301-600-1318 — was created in 2007 and allows callers to report parties already underway, as well as information about a party that’s brewing.
“It’s about public safety,” Crum said, adding that calls are directed toward the appropriate authority.
The county received state and federal funding to address underage drinking, and the tip line was one way to help the problem, Crum said.
“It wasn’t in response to any increases,” he said. “But it just serves as another tool for citizens who may not be aware of how to get involved to be able to report a potentially dangerous public safety concern.”
Crum wasn’t sure how often parties are reported, but said the line is used especially for tips about parties to be held later.
Clarence “Chip” Jewell, director of emergency communications for Frederick County, said calls to police for parties increase at graduation, prom and over holidays, but didn’t have specifics on how often calls come in.
“It’s not overwhelming,” Jewell said.
Crum said underage drinking is a public health concern, and that the department works toward stopping kids from drinking illegally.
“Underage drinking is a concern for us in our prevention work,” he said. “It is illegal and obviously drinking and driving, whether underage or not, is a great public safety concern.”
Frederick police chief Kim Dine said police have partnered with the health department on several initiatives, including a grant to speak about the dangers of methamphetamine use. He said the department also has its own anonymous tip line, which has been used for crime solving.
“Part of our problem-solving approach is to use all available resources,” he said. “The tip line is one way to address those kinds of issues.”
Dine said the department and city have worked together to find solutions to curb underage drinking problems, such as hiring an additional part-time liquor inspector who patrols bars and liquor stores to ensure they meet state laws. The health department tip line is another piece of that solution, he said.
“If we can use the health department as an educator and also as a resource, that’s a good way to approach it,” Dine said.