A rite of passage returns for Westchester County High School students as the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions allows for gatherings including the prom.

With the onset of prom, comes the reinforcement of drugs and alcohol. The Westchester County Office of Drug Abuse and Prevention and STOP-DWI, Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth Program, Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) all under the umbrella of the  Westchester County Police Department joined together for prom safety checkpoints, completing four so far this year.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “This type of enforcement works. We don’t want to restrict our young people from having a good time, but we want them to be safe and smart, so their memories of the prom will be good ones.”

While many proms are hosted off-campus, the checkpoints are considered an extension of school grounds. Vehicles are stopped and inspected for drugs, alcohol and compliance with TLC rules and regulations.

Chairperson of the Westchester County Taxi and Limousine Commission Leandra Eustache, Esq. said: “Not only does this help ensure the safety of the students, but it also helps to combat illegal car service operators who take business away from licensed companies. Our role is to ensure students attending their proms are using safe and reliable transportation and not bringing alcohol or drugs into the prom venues.”

The Office of Drug Abuse Prevention and STOP-DWI makes information available to schools and students ahead of prom season including assemblies for safety measures, letters to principals and brochures. Brochures and fact sheets are available in both English and Spanish,

Office of Drug Abuse Prevention and STOP-DWI Director Patricia Tomassi said: “This is a very different prom season for us, there are many more instances of alcohol consumption, so we decided to be more proactive about it. It’s all about protecting students and helping them celebrate what is supposed to be one of the happiest times in their lives.”

The program began in 2003.

Superintendent Christopher Borsari of the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns has participated in the program for several years.

Borsari said: “Keeping our kids safe is always our top priority. We appreciate the partnership with the County Police in ensuring their safety on such a memorable evening.”

Checkpoints are already scheduled for other Westchester County proms this year.