Many students are celebrating graduation across the Grand Strand this week, and that’s landing some teens in jail.

North Myrtle Beach police say they’ve seen an increase in underage drinking this week. According to booking records for J. Reuben Long detention center, they’ve arrested more than a dozen teenagers for alcohol-related charges, including illegal possession, purchasing, and for possessing fake IDs. 

“Starting this week we get the high school graduates that come to town and of course the first thing they want to do is party. And part of partying in their mind is to drink,” said city spokesperson Pat Dowling.

The North Myrtle Beach Police Alcohol Enforcement Team specifically works to prevent underage drinking. Officers expect even more high school graduates to pour into town next week. Lcl. James Vreeland said arresting teens is the last resort. Instead, the team focuses on education.

“Last Sunday, we went out to all the different beach houses we could find the high school seniors at, and we took about a half hour at each house and sat down and talked with them,” he said.

In those conversations, Vreeland said officers remind students of the long-term consequences of their decisions. 

“We explain to them the stories of people falling off balconies and the people dying of alcohol poisoning and all the other things they might not think about,” Vreeland said.

Alcohol Enforcement officers inspect homes teenagers are staying in, pouring out alcohol on site. They also work with SLED to conduct compliance checks at local businesses, to make sure they’re checking IDs. However, according to Dowling, teenagers aren’t the only problem. 

“A parent has come down and stocked the cottage and left, allowing their teenagers to enjoy themselves and drink,” he said.

Over the last six years, Vreeland said his team has made a difference. 

“A lot of the injuries go down, which is a big one for us. The safety factor is the most important thing. The petty crimes, vandalism, things like that, we’ve seen a drop in that,” Vreeland said.