In response to recent publicity about Hanover Police’s “internal possession” policy, the Community Substance Abuse Advisory Committee met last Monday and organized a public forum for Thursday night.
The committee, which was formed in 1988 and is comprised of 20 community members, meets monthly to discuss how substance abuse affects high school and college students in the area.
At last week’s meeting, the Committee discussed the recent rumors about aggressive police behavior, including accusations that the “internal possession” policy — which allows police to charge a person under 21 with unlawful possession of alcohol if alcohol has been consumed and detectable percentages remains in the body — violates civil rights.
The committee will hold a public hearing Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall to attempt to clarify the police’s policy, its legal ramifications and the controversies raised in the past week.
Dean of the College Lee Pelton and Student Assembly President Danielle Moore ’95 will moderate the forum. Hanover Police Chief Nick Giaccone will also attend.
Hanover Town Manager Cliff Vermilya, who is a member of the committee, said he hopes “people will exchange information and discuss the situation because a lot of what has been discussed is not factual.” He said he will attend the forum.
The controversy emerged after an Associated Press news story released last Sunday reported that the “internal possession” policy was new and that police were stopping students on the street, using a portable alcohol testing device to determine if they had been drinking and arresting them if they had.
The story, which contained factual errors and exaggerations, led to a flurry of BlitzMail messages on campus.
In a letter to the Editor in Chief of The Dartmouth, Pelton stated that he “sees no evidence to suggest that Dartmouth students are being singled out by the Hanover Police Department.” In addition, he attributes the rise in underage alcohol violations to the rise in the number of off-campus Dartmouth parties.
Members of the committee include the town manager, Hanover police chief, superintendent of schools, principals of Hanover High and Middle Schools, and College representatives from the Dean’s office, the Office of Residential Life, the Athletic Department, Alumni Relations and Student Health Services.
The activities of the committee include organizing forums for high school students on substance abuse, discussing the consequences of consuming alcohol on school grounds and distributing posters against drunk driving, according to Sharon Nordgren, a community member who chairs the committee.