New anonymous tip service aims to help curb underage drinking, drug use in Lake County
Just in time for homecoming season, the Lake County sheriff's office and the Lincolnshire-based Stand Strong Coalition are teaming up for a new initiative aimed at curbing underage drinking and drug use.
The coalition purchased a four-year membership to a service through which people can send anonymous tips via text about underage drinking or drug use happening in the county.
The sheriff's office will be the lead agency investigating the tips, either responding themselves or getting the appropriate municipal department to respond.
"We are the administrators of it but Stand Strong provided the financial contributions to make it possible," Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Chris Covelli said.
The hope is that the new program will discourage parents from allowing underage drinking and drug use to take place, while reducing the number of teens partaking in these behaviors, Covelli said.
"Parents and students tell me all of the time that they know where underage drinking is occurring, and they worry for the youth involved," said Jamie Epstein, executive director of the Stand Strong Coalition. "However, they have not found a way to share their tips with police in a way that feels comfortable to them. We are pleased to partner with the Lake County sheriff's office to offer parents and youth this tool to do the right thing when they know of illegal and unsafe activity."
Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said he hopes the new partnership helps his office get involved before a tragedy occurs.
"Statistics show us, underage drinking and drug use leads to higher rates of sexual assault, a higher likelihood of being involved in a fatal or serious traffic crash, as well as other negative consequences," Idleburg said.
Covelli said the service went live to coincide with Stevenson High School's recent homecoming celebration. So far they have not received any tips.
When the initial four-year period is up, the sheriff's office will evaluate the program and decide whether to continue.
"We're excited about the collaboration and partnership," Covelli said. "We look forward to continuing to serve Lake County through outreach."
To anonymously send in a tip to the Lake County sheriff's office, send a text message to 847-411 and start the message with "123 TIP." People using the service are encouraged to put in as much information as possible.