Prom Crime Watch in Effect for Richland Co.

Local authorities are incorporating new tactics for prom season

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By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- A signature dream in students' lives could become a real nightmare if prom night gets out of hand, say police. Richland County authorities are offering what they say is an early wake-up call for students and parents.

Like most people this time of year, law enforcement officials say they want everyone to enjoy prom and have a good time. But not, they say, at the risk of unnecessary injury or even death. Armed with a new way of tackling partying prom goers, Richland County authorities will be patrolling the streets and social media to stay a step ahead of they say could happen with drugs, drinking, driving and prom night.

"April, May and June have higher statistics for teen fatalities, wrecks 'cause it's prom season," said lt. Rafael Gonzalez, with the Department's Community Action (CAT) Team. "You gotta look at the consequences. Do you wanna be a parent having a funeral the next week for your child? It could happen. You've got to confront it as reality. That's what we're out to do."

Gonzalez says officers have undergone specialized training just for prom season this year. They'll be asking different questions on the street, tweeting and facebook-posting as much as students, and having eyes and ears where teens nor parents might expect.

"The reason we're doing this is the parents will be held liable. Parents having these prom parties won't be tolerated, and if we find people in violation, there will be arrests made."

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