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Rumors true...and false

Caught drinking at an unsupervised party while parents were out of town, LOHS kids got a 'rare' break from Orion deputies

May 19, 2010 - A rumor swirling around Lake Orion during recent weeks went something like this: A houseful of drunken high school students, about 75 kids or so, partying at a home on Silverbell Road and got off without so much as a slap on the hand when deputies showed up to see what the ruckus was about.

The rumor made its way to The Review last week, when a parent called to ask about what she'd been hearing.

None of the kids were cited for underage drinking—formally known as minor in possession, or MIP—said the mom, who has students at Lake Orion High School and asked that her name not be used.

Was it true? And if so, what kind of a message was it sending to kids in the community, she wanted to know.

The rumors are true, said Lt. Bruce Naile, commander of the Orion substation, and false.

Naile confirmed his deputies had indeed broken up a broken up the party, but noted it wasn't on Silverbell Road, but in the 2300 block of Canoe Circle. And the numbers were way off.

"There may have been 75 kids there at some point," he said, noting deputies observed a large number of beer cans. "There's no way the kids who were there could drink that much beer - but they were gone when we got there."

The call from a neighbor complaining "teenagers were leaving the residence with open intoxicants," came in just a few minutes after midnight April 25.

The caller also noted "the odor of marijuana," according to the police report, which lists 11 students at the home when deputies arrived.

Naile confirmed the other rumor: No citations were issued to any of the students. The decision, he said, was made at the discretion of the responding deputies.

Naile was emphatic—the teens got a "big break."

"It's not the standard way we'd handle it," he said, noting 17 teens slapped with routine MIP citations since. "It's very rare."

According to the report, all the students—once they came out from various hiding places around the home—were cooperative, including one girl who fled through the yard, but stopped and returned to the home when deputies called to her.

Each of the 11 students submitted voluntarily to a preliminary breath test (PBT) requested by deputies.

Results were listed in a range from 0.021 to 0.19, and showed all but two had consumed alcohol.

In Michigan, adults with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher can be charged with drunk driving.

For those under 21, it's against the law to drive with of 0.02 or greater.

But deputies opted to give the kids a break rather than saddling them with a criminal record and a go-round with the courts that can cost thousands and potentially follow them for a lifetime.

All were released to their parents, who arrived at the home.

The host parents were out of town and had not authorized the party. According to the report, both were highly upset when contacted by one of their two LOHS students back home.

"Parents are always contacted, whether we take action or not," said Naile, noting that school liaison deputies are also notified when students have a run-in with law enforcement outside school hours.

Julie Brenner, executive director of the North Oakland Community Coalition, said she'd been hearing the rumors as well, and was concerned about potential impacts.

"What's the message we're sending," she said. "Word on the street is those kids think it's funny, and they're going around school bragging about how they got caught but didn't get in any trouble. The reality is, you have to be 21 to drink. That's the law."

But Brenner also acknowledged the information she had was based on a cycle of rumors, and noted she didn't know what was true and what was made up.

"Consistent law enforcement is an issue for every community," she said. "Should those kids be cut a break? That's not up to us; it's up to our law enforcement, and I trust them to do the right thing."

Lake Orion Review Editor
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