ASU changes approach to discouraging underage drinking

It's a problem on virtually every American college campus, underage drinking.

After years of doing an intense crack down at the beginning of the school year, law enforcement are taking a different approach this year.

One thing students won't see this school year is is the Safe and Sober campaign where Tempe, ASU, and other police departments go on saturation patrols and make hundreds of arrests.

Instead, they will see officers and school officials at their front doorstep.

Many ASU students say they've gotten used to seeing increased police patrols during the streets. Last year a police task force in Tempe made 392 arrests related to alcohol crimes during the first weekend of the fall semester.

Students have complained that the saturation patrols made them feel like they were living in a police state.

So this year students will get more knocks on their doors as police, firefighters, student leaders, and ASU officials go door to door, for the welcome back walk.

"Let students moving back in know that we really care about our community, and we want to engage and connect with them," said Ron Jackson.

Gone is the Safe and Sober campaign. Instead there will be a softer approach to reaching students and educating them about the dangers of binge and underage drinking.

"For me it's building relationships, building positive relationships with residents and students," said Isaac Miller.

Instead of making arrests the focus will be on preventing arrests, and convincing young adults to avoid making poor decisions when it comes to drinking.

There would still be an enforcement component, just not a heavy police presence as in past years. Officials hope the change in tactics will make students feel welcomed, instead of watched.

"Letting folks know we want to connect with them, we want them to connect with us," said Jackson.

Another upcoming change will be the diversion program for underage drinkers. Minors caught possessing alcohol will have to complete a 16-hour program up from the current 8-hour program.

Students return to ASU on August 20.