PORTLAND – Police agencies throughout Cumberland County will be stepping up patrols and enforcement of underage drinking laws in an effort to keep prom season safe.

A federal grant will pay for extra patrols by uniform and plainclothes officers who will comprise the Cumberland County Underage Drinking Enforcement Task Force. They will work with school administrators and conduct broad patrols in the areas where proms and graduations are going on, according to a news release from the Westbrook Police Department.

“It shows how important the concern for underage drinking is among area law enforcement personnel,” said Westbrook Police Capt. Tom Roth.

Prom and graduation season is often a time of celebration and with some graduates that can involve drinking.

As a result, prom season “is also a time of tragedy for too many young people and their families,” said South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins, whose agency is participating in the effort.

Police hope the extra enforcement will deter drinking. A 2011 survey of Maine youth found that 85 percent said they did not drink when they thought they would be caught by police.

The effort includes local law enforcement from Falmouth, Freeport, South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Bridgton, Yarmouth, Windham and Westbrook as well as Maine State Police and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Many of the officers involved are school resource officers or those with previous underage drinking enforcement experience, the release said.

The effort is patterned after a similar approach used in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

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