La PORTE — Homecoming season is here and the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department is increasing its enforcement and presence throughout the county in an effort to keep students and motorists safe.

For the next several weeks, Michigan City (Sept. 20), South Central (Sept. 27) and La Porte high schools will be celebrating their homecomings, and each is a week-long celebration culminating with football games and dances. New Prairie’s homecoming activities were last week.

Traditionally, class rivalries and competitions occur during this week and, at times, have carried over in the form of incidents of underage drinking, reckless driving and criminal behavior such as vandalism, according to sheriff’s Capt. Derek Allen.

“The Sheriff’s Office reminds students and parents to discuss their school’s activities to avoid dangerous and illegal activity,” he said. “Parents should encourage their children to make good decisions and remind them of the consequences of drinking and drug use."

The Sheriff’s Office provided several safety tips to help ensure a safe homecoming season:

n Get informed: Find out the details from your children and school about homecoming festivities. Ask questions such as “who, what, where and when.”

n Help your children come up with a plan: Find out what events your child will attend and track them. Find out who your child will be with and who is driving.

n Remind your child of your expectations: No illegal activity such as alcohol or drug use, vandalism, unsafe driving and curfew violation.

n Have a “Fail Safe” plan: Let your children know that if they find themselves in a dangerous situation they can call for a ride or help with no questions asked.

n Get in touch with other parents: Talk to the parents of the children your child will be with to ensure that you are all on the same plan and mutually looking out for them.

n Check in with your child: Reach out to your child during their festivities to see how they are doing and if they need anything.

“The goal of the Sheriff’s Office is to keep students safe and have zero tolerance for underage consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages,” Allen said. “Deputies will also seek out and criminally charge those who provide drugs or alcohol to minors.”

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