Several severely intoxicated teenagers were rushed to the hospital after police broke up a large house party at 1215 W. Park Ave. on Saturday.
Long Beach Police Commissioner Mike Tangney said that medics removed several minors from the house on stretchers after police were called to the home at about 11 p.m. Others were seen stumbling around and being carried by friends.
According to Tangney, between 150 and 200 people were at the party, where minors were drinking alcohol. At least three, believed to be 18 or 19, were treated for alcohol poisoning at South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, he said.
An unidentified 19-year-old man was issued a summons for violating the city’s Social Host Law, and is scheduled to appear in Long Beach City Court on April 7.
Tangney said that a neighbor anonymously called the police because there was a large group of young people congregating outside the house late that night.
“Neighbors got concerned,” Tangney said. “We found a tremendous number of children consuming alcohol and broke up the party, notified parents, and brought the heavily intoxicated ones to the hospital.”
Tangney said that the host of the party rents the home. He could not be reached for comment. The Social Host Law holds any legal adult in charge of the property accountable.
The penalty for violating the ordinance is up to $1,000, 15 days in jail or both, subject to judicial discretion. Residents under 21 who are cited also may be required to attend a three-hour education series hosted by Long Beach AWARE, a community organization that aims to combat substance abuse among young people.
In 2006, Long Beach became the first municipality in New York state to pass such a law.
As of June 2015, 33 municipalities and 17 counties in the state had passed Social Host legislation modeled after the Long Beach ordinance, according to Judi Vining, executive director of Long Beach AWARE.
“Honestly, we’re sad, upset, frightened, but not surprised, unfortunately,” Vining said of Saturday’s incident. “The three young people who were sent to the hospital were lucky that the police were there. Alcohol poisoning is a real medical emergency with life-and-death implications. 911 should always be called.”
The aim of the law, she explained, is to persuade adults to be more proactive in preventing situations where young people might abuse alcohol or drugs.
“It’s time for the community to step up and realize that if you know of a party, or you hear of one that’s about to happen, call the police,” she said.
Vining and others say that underage drinking is a serious problem in Long Beach. In 2015, 36 percent of the high school’s juniors and seniors said they drank in their own homes, and 56 percent said they drank at someone else’s home, according to Vining.
The rate of underage drinking in Long Beach is 20 percent higher than the state and county averages. In December 2015, Vining said, 68.4 percent of Long Beach High juniors reported drinking in the previous month, up from 44 percent in 2013, and researchers say that the increase is related in part to the toll that Hurricane Sandy had on the community.
“Social Host is intended to be a deterrent, not a punishment,” Vining said. “But it’s also used as a tool so the police are able to do something.”