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N-Bomb Drug Raises 'Social Hosting' Risks in St. Louis County

Property owners of homes that host illegal drug use and underage drinking in some municipalities can be held accountable for the consequences, even if those adult owners are not present during the parties.

Allegations from a West St. Louis County mother saying her daughter may have been slipped a dangerous new synthetic drug called N-Bomb at a New Year's Eve party in Wildwood are being actively investigated. Capt. Ken Williams, commander of St. Louis County Police's Wildwood Precinct, confirmed with Patch the address of the associated party is within Wildwood's city limits.

Williams said the Chesterfield mother, Carley Alves, contacted Wildwood police officers about her concerns about a day or two after the alleged incident. "We are cautious, because there is no evidence or direct proof this drug was in use or consumed by the woman's daughter. We will be re-interviewing the mother, and have reached out to the property owners at the address where the party was held."

He said 30 people attended the New Year's Eve party, according to Alves' daughter. "But we didn't receive any calls the night of the party from concerned neighbors of that subdivision, and no complaints from any other associated guests (attendees)."

Williams said there is no history of prior police calls at the associated address.

"Although our officers didn't witness this incident directly, and we have to be careful dealing with hindsight, we do think it's good to get word out about a dangerous new drug," he said.

Potential Consequences for Property Owners Whose Homes are used to Host Parties with Underage Guests

Wildwood was the first West St. Louis County municipality to adopt a "Social Hosting Law," per the recommendations of Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition. The coalition is a volunteer organization focused on various ways to prevent youth substance abuse. The law holds adults responsible for unruly teenage gathering and underage drinking or controlled substance/illegal drug use—even if the adult is not home.

Williams said Wildwood police officers are following the steps to determine if the city's social hosting law should be applied to this New Year's Eve party allegedly associated with the N-Bomb drug. A copy of Wildwood's social hosting regulation is attached to this article.

Wildwood passed the social hosting ordinance in May 2008, and Clarkson Valley did as well in September 2009. Chesterfield followed suit last July.

Some social hosting laws carry a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. The laws can apply to the property owner, whoever is in charge of the premises, or the party organizer. If a minor is the organizer, then the parents or guardians are liable for costs, regardless of the adults' presence at the event.

Under the "social hosting laws," property owners can be required to compensate cities for any costs incurred by police or emergency crews responding to a complaint of an unruly party. Costs could include salaries and medical treatment of anyone injured.

In the past, parents were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, endangering a minor's welfare or peace disturbance when they were away on vacation when parties occurred. Charges now can include circumstances that cite adults as guilty of not being on-hand to supervise parties.

Rockwood Drug-Free Coaltion members pushed for passage of social hosting laws in all communities within the Rockwood School District, including Ellisville, Ballwin, Eureka, Winchester, Fenton and unincorporated St. Louis County.

Sgt. James Molden, watch supervisor for the Wildwood police precinct, said the law more typically applies to large parties of 100-plus kids, which include underage drinking, loud music, out-of-control behaviors, too many vehicles in city streets, and property damage to surrounding neighbors or city items, such as fire hydrants and signs.

"Sometimes, Facebook and other communications means prompt larger attendances at parties than people planned. We typically are called by a neighbor, and go in to determine if there are any violations," said Molden. "If there are, the social hosting law is a great tool for dealing with those circumstances."

Homeowners with first-time violations of Wildwood's social hosting law are sent warning letters, Williams said.

However, he said parents can face criminal or civil charges if juveniles leave those adults' homes while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs and then cause an accident. And, adults may have to pay for repercussions, such as the costs of first responders or property damage.

He said some questions about these type of teenage parties center on moral obligations, such as:  "Do the parents of every child in attendance agree with the same definition of 'reasonable behavior'?"

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