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Organizations work to curb binge drinking in Laramie

Mar 19, 2013 - The Associated Press

Laramie Police Chief Dale Stalder sees an apparent increase in the number and severity of alcohol-related incidents in the university town.

LARAMIE -- Laramie's binge-drinking culture isn't unique among college towns, and it's a problem people have been working on for a long time, according to local experts.

Tracy Young, a community prevention professional with the Coalition to Prevent Substance Abuse, said the Laramie community is generally proactive when it comes to addressing substance abuse issues. But binge drinking is a huge issue that will take the community's support for a long period of time to fight, she said.

"People need to realize how big the task is," Young said.

The coalition, also known as COPSA, is made up of representatives from almost 20 different organizations, law enforcement agencies and demographic groups in Laramie. The group meets monthly and has been discussing how to address binge drinking specifically for the last few months.

"We're very much aware of this issue," Young said.

Laramie Police Chief Dale Stalder recently discussed his concerns regarding a seeming increase in the number and severity of alcohol-related incidents to which the department has been responding.

Lena Newlin coordinates the University of Wyoming's AWARE program, which stands for Alcohol Wellness Alternatives, Research and Education. She agreed that Laramie's binge-drinking culture doesn't make the city unique.

"At UW, we've been working on this issue for a very long time. It's an issue that I don't expect is going to go away anytime soon."

Young said the coalition's strategic plan to curb binge drinking in Laramie has several components, starting with enhanced law enforcement. That means a concerted effort between the Albany County Sheriff's Office, Laramie Police Department and UW Police Department to work together when on patrol.

"It's taking everything they're doing and doing it better and more consistently, and tracking what they're doing and trying to keep our fingers on it so we know what they're doing," Young said.

For example, breaking up a big party might require the efforts of several officers for a period of several hours.

The LPD may need assistance from the Sheriff's Office or UWPD to conduct party patrols if its own officers are stretched thin.

"It's pulling in other departments and working together."

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