Violence, break-ins and roofies.
It’s not what most people think of when they think of the holidays, but that’s where law enforcement officer’s minds go, according to Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller.
Drinking and driving is always high on the list of issues officers prepare for when one year rolls into the next, Miller said, but there are also domestic fights, drunken fights, and the possibility of drugs being dropped into drinks at parties.
“It’s okay to go to a party, but if you do something (bad) there’s going to be long-term consequences,” Miller said.
Roofies – a common name for Rohypnol, a drug that renders victims incapacitated – aren’t often seen in Onslow County, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen here, Miller said.
He cautioned people, especially women, at parties this weekend to keep an eye on their drinks.
“If you party . . . be aware of your surroundings,” he said.
Drinking too much is also a big issue on New Year’s Eve, Miller said. There’s a difference between use and abuse, he added. Drinking in moderation is key.
“Even a couple of drinks can impair your judgement,” Miller said.
If you start to feel dizzy, Miller suggested switching liquids to water or soda – and don’t drink too much too fast.
“Binge drinking, to me, is poor judgement,” Miller said.
Miller was raised to drink responsibly, he said, and that means having a designated driver or plans to call a cab at the end of the night, not drinking and driving. Even if someone doesn’t feel drunk, if they’ve only had a few drinks, their reflexes and judgement will be affected.
In the city, the Jacksonville Police Department will be looking for impaired drivers as part of the governor’s Holiday Booze It and Lose It campaign, according to a press release.
“It takes only one or two drinks to slow steering, braking judgment and reaction time,” said Lt. Sean Magill with the Jacksonville Police Department.
So far, 329 people have died in 2016 due to impaired driving, according to the release.
At the end of a party, especially on New Year’s Eve when parties are expected to last until at least midnight, even those who haven’t had any alcohol all night could be tired and it’s important to have someone sober and alert behind the wheel, Miller said.
The Jacksonville Police Department suggested those on the road drive defensively, stay alert to what other drivers on the road are doing.
But dangers on New Year’s Eve could extend past the pavement.
Deputies have been called to parties in the past after people with a little too much liquid courage have gotten in a verbal argument that turned physical, Miller said. It happens over many long weekends, he added.
Other calls include domestic arguments that could end in assault charges.
The makings of a good party don’t include inviting blue lights and uniformed officers, Miller said.
That could be waiting for you at home after a party as well. Criminals know the holidays mean traveling; empty houses and cars are perfect targets for thieves, Miller said.
Before heading out for a night of fun, make sure it doesn’t end in disaster by securing your home and making sure the doors of your home and vehicles are all locked, he said.
Also ensure your home isn’t a target by not placing cardboard boxes from opened gifts at the curb, said Richlands Police Department Chief Ron Lindig. Many items have a photo of what’s inside the box posted on the outside, like 60-inch TVs and desktop computers.
“That tells everybody what they have in the house,” he said.
For those living in Richlands, Lindig suggested taking the boxes to the dumpster behind Richlands Town Hall. He also suggested breaking the boxes down and putting them inside an enclosed container, like the trashcan or recycling bin.
Just this week, Lindig said he noticed four-to-five homes with boxes out front and could immediately see what new gifts they’d gotten for Christmas. If he can see it, so do thieves.
If you notice someone sifting through trashcans or looking in recycling bins, Lindig said call the police. It doesn’t happen often in Richlands, he said, but the prospect can be “enticing” for criminals.
Overall Lindig said he’s looking forward to New Year’s Eve and plans to spend it at home. He hopes people are able to enjoy the holiday weekend responsibly.
“It’s a time for celebrating, a new year is coming in,” Lindig said. “It’s supposed to be a fun time.”