West Chester police team up with hotels to stop underage drinking

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

WEST CHESTER, OH (FOX19)  - Prom season is right around the corner, and West Chester police are asking local hotels and motels not to rent rooms to those under 21. Officers said it's all to cut down on underage drinking.

Several local teenagers we spoke with agreed with the initiative.

"I don't want to get caught up in that," said Donesha McKinney, 15. "And be like a drunk person when I get older. I don't want that."

And neither do West Chester police. Officers rolled out an initiative to make it harder for teenagers to drink by asking managers of Township hotels not to rent rooms to those under 21 years old.

"I think it's a good thing," said Jade Wilkins, 15. "Because there's so many immature people drinking, and they don't know what to do when they drink. They just act stupid. And it's dangerous."

And potentially deadly. Earlier this month, St. Xavier senior Matt James died after falling off a motel balcony during a Spring Break trip in Florida. This initiative was developed before the incident, but the timing hits home.

Cathy Kinney is Director of Sales for Wingate by Wyndham in West Chester. She said she welcomes the initiative, and is glad police are getting all the local hotels on board.

"Police called and said they want to make sure all the hotels are aware that it's prom season,  and what the dates are, to take those extra safety precautions," Kinney said. "Make sure you're front desk is trained."

We spoke with several other local hotel and motel managers off camera. All of them said the police request won't affect their policies. Most hotels in the area require patrons to be at least 21 years old to rent a room. Managers did say the police request serves as a great reminder for hotel staff.

"The Wingate has always had the policy that we don't rent to anyone under 21," said Kinney. "But there are other hotels that do. I think (police) don't know probably who does and who doesn't. And (police) just want to get the word out."

While young people can't rent rooms at the Wingate Hotel, Kinney said teenagers are still more than welcome to visit.

"I would like to welcome them to come for dinner," Kinney said. "We'll give them 20-percent off, but don't try to rent a room."

Wilkins said she won't, but not because of police or hotel managers.

"Uh-uh," Wilkins said. "No drinking. (My) parents are strict!"

Police said they're hoping local hotel and motel managers will keep the request in mind all year.

Copyright 2010 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.