Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Grad Night arrests rise slightly

But officials praise event

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MASON — Arrests connected to the latest Grad Night at Paramount's Kings Island were up slightly.

        But authorities, who crack down on the area outside the park each year, said Monday the event went smoothly overall.

        Forty-eight people — 16 of them age 18 and under — were charged with 61 violations, including possession of alcohol, drug abuse, using false identification and marijuana trafficking. In 1999, 45 people were arrested.

        Of the arrests, 41 people were charged with underage possession, according to figures from the Ohio Department of Public Safety's Cincinnati investigative unit.

        The arrests were made by state liquor agents, Warren County sheriff's deputies and Mason police, who joined in a law enforcement sweep of hotels, businesses and parking lots outside the park.

        “It's so toned down anymore,” said Gary Sullivan, agent-in-charge of the inves tigative unit. He sent 16 agents to work the sweep this year.

        “I can see in years to come, it might not even be a big enforcement project for us,” Agent Sullivan said.

        He thinks dwindling crowds but heavier enforcement have kept the number of arrests up. However, trouble is down considerably from years past when Grad Night, which started in 1972, was more heavily attended and lasted more than one night.

        Friday's seven-hour event drew about 6,000 people, Agent Sullivan said.

        Last year's 45 arrests — 33 of them for underage drinking — represented a 67 percent increase in overall arrests from 1998.

        In 1998, authorities saw a 53 percent drop in underage drinking arrests from the previous year. Still, 27 people were arrested on 31 violations in connection with Grad Night in 1998.

        Kings Island spokesman Jeff Siebert said there were no arrests inside the park.

        “It really has evolved into a very pleasant fun atmosphere,” he said. “The kids I spoke with said they were there to have fun with their friends — and that's the main focus of the event.”


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