UTICA, N.Y- Hundreds of students graduated from both Rome Free Academy and New Hartford on Saturday. Parents celebrating their son or daughters great achievement, many planning graduation parties.
These parties as well as the forthcoming weeks have law enforcement on edge and urging everyone to be safe. NEWSChannel 2 spoke with Undersheriff Joe Lisi about the concerns the department has.
"One of the concerns that we have is that parents can have a graduation party and the kids can go there and they can serve alcohol as long as they don't let the children drive home. Those parents are responsible if they serve those children alcohol, both legally and civilly," said Lisi.
He said that DWI activity is heightened this time of year because of the holiday season. He said the Sheriff's Department will be increasing patrols to make sure people are staying safe.
During his time as the Undersheriff, he said there was one incident that resulted from alcohol at a graduation party that stands out to him.
"A kid was at a graduation party and he had been drinking, I don't know what circumstance or where he got the alcohol. Whether it was from the people at the party. Either way, he ended up getting behind the wheel hitting the pole and killing himself
No officer ever wants to notify a parent that their son or daughter was killed in a motor vehicle accident. I've had to make those notifications before, and its one of the worst things that I've ever had to do." said Lisi.
It's not just graduation parties that are on the department's radar. Many locals roll the dice and cross the border into Pennsylvania to buy illegal fireworks.
The undersheriff said if a person is caught, the consequences can be substantial.
"But if an officer is available and they get a complaint, and they can prove that the person that the complaint is about is using illegal fireworks, we can certainly charge them and seize the fireworks," said Lisi.
The department's nautical team will also be increasing its patrols around the local lakes.
We're not against people having fun. There are fireworks displays in many different areas. The towns and villages promote different fireworks displays. They're wonderful, they're professionally done. My advice enjoy those, get a couple of lawn chairs with your family and just sit back and watch the fireworks instead of trying to do something yourself that could cause you to get injured or injure someone else," said Lisi.