Parents beware: Police targeting underage grad parties

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Amherst police were called late Friday to a home on Transit Road on a complaint of party of teens drinking alcohol, a practical rite of passage for many as the spring turns to summer.

It’s a common occurrence this time of year, authorities said, as western New York students make the jump from high school to college.

“It’s very exciting to have your child graduate from high school or college. The weather’s nice, it’s what we do,” said New York State Trooper James O’Callaghan.

But along with this comes the risk — spurred by too many parents or guardians thinking alcohol should accompany the party, so long as it’s chaperoned, O’Callaghan said.

“To have that mindset of, well, I’m watching them, so nothing will happen to them while I’m here, is completely bogus,” he said.

Josette Coppola, of the Transit Road address agrees.

“Bad idea,” she said. “Very bad idea.”

Coppola was arrested in that incident last Friday.

“My son had friends over, a party, and it got out of hand,” she said. “People on social media heard about it. He did not know a lot of the people coming.

“Once I saw people with beer, I asked them to leave. A short time later, the police showed up,” she added.

The party of was broken up. Coppola was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and unlawfully dealing with a child. Her 16-year-old son was also arrested.

“People came that we didn’t even know, from Canisius and St. Joe’s and other schools, and my son said, ‘Mom, it’s getting out of hand.’ And before we knew it, police showed up,” she said.

O’Callaghan says there are no excuses when it comes to alcohol at underage parties, regardless of the occasion.

“If they are drinking and then leave your property, and get into an accident, you’re liable for that,” he said. “As a parent, you are in charge of that house. You are in charge of that party. So if you have to call us to remove people from those parties, which we do, that’s completely OK.”

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