In light of the fourth annual Youth Grove Evening of Remembrance, which will be held at 7 pm tonight in Central Park, the sheriff's department would like to remind the community of programs and efforts aimed at ensuring the safety of all the youth in our community.
As part of these efforts, the City of Santa Clarita hosts the annual Youth Grove Evening of Remembrance event, sponsors and promotes numerous youth related programs, partners with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station in crime prevention and enforcement programs, and provides resources to parents, which will assist in planning, controlling and surviving teenage celebrations, parties, and graduation events.
As part of this awareness campaign, the City and Sheriff's Station jointly produced a "Parent Guide to Teenage Parties and Dances"  brochure that assists parents in planning and organizing an event when it is hosted at their home. The information also provides tips when the party is held elsewhere, and what to consider with your teenager.
As we enter into the academic promotion, graduation, and eventually Summer break season and many of our youth in the Santa Clarita Valley have time off from school and other responsibilities, it becomes even more critical to remind parents how important it is that our youth relax and celebrate responsibly and our parents stay closely involved with their teenager's activities.
This time of the year young adults from all our local high schools attend prom nights and graduation night ceremonies, commonly referred to as "Grad Night". These celebrations are designed to be joyous occasions filled with youthful exuberance as our teenagers celebrate one of the greatest achievements of their young lives. The city of Santa Clarita and your Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station want to ensure that they remain that way.
An overwhelming majority of our youth in the Santa Clarita Valley are making the right decisions and take personal safety and accountability seriously. However, the harsh reality is that some may make poor decisions during these celebrations that can result in severe consequences. This time of year presents a good opportunity for parents to talk to their teenagers, educate them on the dangers associated with drug use and unlawful behavior and help them make the right choices.
"Every year at this time your deputies respond to parties in which teenagers are unsupervised and participating in unsafe or criminal behavior," explains Captain Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. "I intend to increase patrol and protection efforts on every graduation night this year in an effort to keep all our youth safe as they celebrate one of the biggest accomplishments of their young lives," added Becker.
The results of unsupervised teen parties can be tragic, as alcohol and drug use has led to death and injuries. Other times, complaints of loud, unreasonable noise is reported by neighbors. There are times when we also see an increase in sexual assaults directly connected to these types of gatherings.
In 2009, Santa Clarita Sheriff's responded to 4,062 calls for service involving either large parties or loud music complaints. Some of these incidents involved parties in which teenagers were found to be unsupervised and participating in unsafe or criminal behavior.
The "Parent Guide to Teenage Parties and Dances"  also reminds parents of the possible liabilities they face by hosting a party or having a party at their residence in which illegal activities occur.
California law holds parents liable, both civilly and criminally, in the event of any injury or death when alcohol is either furnished or allowed to be consumed by a minor at a party.
The Sheriff's Department has always taken policing neighborhood parties and disturbances seriously. It is the policy of the Sheriff's Department to maintain the peace, security, and serenity of our neighborhoods by responding to and abating neighborhood disturbances, including loud parties, unreasonably loud music and other noise-related incidents that disturb the quality of life of our community.
In these situations, Deputies must balance the rights of party participants to have a social gathering against the right of the neighbors to be free from unreasonable noise and disturbance.
To effectively respond to the calls for service involving large parties, enforce curfew and other juvenile laws, and enhance reckless or intoxicated driving enforcement efforts, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station will be supplementing normal patrol staffing with eight additional deputy sheriffs throughout the city of Santa Clarita during the 2010 graduation nights.
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station would like to remind you -- Don't Drink and Drive! Remember, underage drinking is against the law, but don't complicate matters by also driving. We will be conducting a Driving Under the Influence (D.U.I.) checkpoint this Friday night.
Be aware that the Santa Clarita Safe Rides  is a program independent of the Sheriff's Department that provides free, safe and confidential rides home to teenagers who are not in a condition to drive or want to avoid being a passenger with a dangerous driver. On any Friday or Saturday night you can simply call (661) 259-6330. Although the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department does support the free service, as it has undoubtedly helped save lives, we do not condone underage/teenage drinking. The fact is, since programs such as Safe Rides and Every 15 Minutes have been in existence, D.U.I. related traffic collisions and deaths involving teenage drivers have decreased remarkably in the Santa Clarita Valley. Drunk Driving: Over the Limit - Under Arrest! Stay Safe - Stay Sober - Stay Alive!
By following a few precautionary guidelines and making responsible choices, our youth can have the incredible graduation celebration experience they expect and deserve. On behalf of all the staff at your Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station: Congratulations to our Soon to be 2010 Graduates!
The "Parent Guide to Teenage Parties and Dances" is available at City Hall, the Sheriff's Station, or on-line at the Santa Clarita Sheriff's website www.SCVSheriff.com .