Host's arrest doesn't stop party


To Baltimore County authorities, the case of Paul George Meekins represents the way the Party Busters hot line can work to stop illegal teen-age drinking.

Mr. Meekins, a 27-year-old unemployed electrician, says the hot line ruined a legitimate house party.

It all started last week, when an assistant principal at Overlea High School came across a flier -- one Mr. Meekins had been circulating -- that advertised a party at Mr. Meekins' home. The flier gave the particulars and said there would be a cover charge of "$5 a head." The assistant principal called the hot line.

Though the flier said nothing about alcohol being served , police went to the Meekins address in the 7800 block of Oakdale Ave. before the party began Friday night.

Once there, they discovered an outstanding warrant for Mr. Meekins' arrest, said Lt. Richard Weih of the White Marsh precinct. Mr. Meekins' neighbor had accused him of stealing a .22-caliber handgun. Mr. Meekins denies the charge.

"It was a false arrest," he said. "They arrested me before the party even started. They were laughing and stuff, saying, 'You're going to miss your own party.' "

With Mr. Meekins arrested, police thought the party was over. They were wrong. Mr. Meekins' "friends" -- several hundred of them, according to several sources -- showed up anyway and started drinking 3 1/2 kegs of beer. Mr. Meekins said soda was on hand for underage people.

By 11:30 p.m., the police returned to break up the party for good.

"There were hundreds of kids drinking in the streets," said Lt. Weih.

Several juveniles were arrested for illegal drinking, but Lt. Weih didn't know exactly how many. Others were apparently given citations for illegal drinking, he said.

"It was 'Party Busters' at it's best," said Michael Gimbel, head of the county's Office of Substance Abuse. The agency takes the hot line calls and forwards them to police.

Although progress has been made in the last few years to stop teen-age drinking and driving -- teen-age fatalities from drunk driving are down significantly -- there still is a problem with adults who host parties where teen-agers are served alcohol, said Mr. Gimbel.

"Look at what happened in Frederick County this past weekend," said Mr. Gimbel. "Four kids were shot. That's what can happen, that kind of violence. And it has nothing to do with drunk driving."

Mr. Meekins said he did not intend to serve alcohol to minors. He said he only wanted to have a "spring party" for his friends. "It was supposed to be just a private party," he said.

He also said the party was to take place entirely on his half-acre of land. Hamburgers and other foods were there. Volleyball and dart games were set up, and people were invited to fish in a fishing hole at the rear of his property.

"This is all a bunch of people from Rosedale," said Mr. Meekins. "It's a community party."

After having Friday's party raided as he sat in jail, Mr. Meekins said he decided to have another party Saturday night "to make it up to my friends." County police raided that party also.

He is not giving up. He plans to have another party Saturday.

"I want to make up for last weekend," he said. "If they [the police] show up again, then it will really be bad. It will be worse harassment."

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