It may be a time for teens to celebrate, but local law enforcement agencies want young people to party responsibly and make it through graduation and prom season alive.
Operation Graduation Prom Alive, or GPA as it's known, is in its eighth year and so far has been a success in preventing teen fatalities, said Kanawha County Sheriff John Rutherford.
Nearly a decade ago, the county experienced a string of after-prom or after-graduation fatalities. Rutherford said the traffic fatalities would occur year after year.
There have been no fatal crashes in relation to prom or graduation since the program began in 2006.
"We as a department felt like we needed to do something to reduce the number of accidents during prom and graduation season," Rutherford said.
"There's nothing more tragic than the death of a young person especially as they are beginning that next step in their lives."
The sheriff's department started by stationing deputies at dances and graduation ceremonies and then extended the program to include municipal agencies and the State Police.
For example, the students at Herbert Hoover High School and George Washington High School will be holding their proms Saturday at the Charleston Civic Center.
Rutherford said deputies, troopers and Charleston police officers will be parked in front of the Civic Center when the students arrive and stay through the festivities.
When the students return to their neighborhoods after prom, the officers will head to the known party spots to conduct high-visibility, zero-tolerance patrols.
Capt. Sean Crosier said Metro Communications keeps officers up to speed on calls concerning parties, allowing officers to provide better coverage.
Crosier said the message is to encourage young adults to be careful and abstain from drinking, specifically drinking and driving. He said officers also would take tips from members of who know of parents throwing parties and serving alcohol to minors.
"We're going to practice zero tolerance," Crosier said. "If we receive a call or a tip on parents serving alcohol, we're going to follow up on it and investigate."
The operation receives $15,000 from the Kanawha County Commission in overtime funds for officers in all agencies participating. Joining the sheriff's department are State Police troopers, and officers from Charleston, South Charleston, Dunbar, Nitro and St. Albans.