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Operation Dry Spring aims to make break season safer for students

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Between the beginning of March and the beginning of April each year, spring break starts in Florida. The water gets warmer, the sun shines brighter and a steady rush of celebrating high school and college students invades the state’s coastal cities and towns.

This year, the Florida Sheriff’s Task Force implemented Operation Dry Spring to make the party period safer for students.

The initiative aims to protect underage partygoers from accessing and consuming alcohol, said Lt. Todd Kelly of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

Kelly said state law enforcement was “young at one time” and understands the spring break hype.

“We’re all for that,” Kelly said. “We want people under 21 to be able to have a great time and party and do everything they want to do, but we want them to do it safely and not under the influence of alcohol.”

Sgt. Chuck Mulligan, spokesman for the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, said the state task force is using public awareness campaigns and undercover operations to prevent the illegal activities. These undercover investigations don’t target the students themselves, rather convenience stores selling alcohol to minors without asking for identification.

“The message here is we want everyone to go home safe, every day and every night, ” Mulligan said. “We will do what we have to do to limit and mitigate those issues as we move forward.”

The task force’s results will be announced April 11, after spring break season ends.

“My hope would be that the results were low,” Kelly said, adding that low numbers would suggest students are partying more safely.

Rachel Crosby wrote this story online.

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