Reports By Annette Christie Prosecutor plans events for National Crime Victims’ Week The Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office is now in its second year of marking the National Crime Victims’ Week with significance. Last year, the office hosted a memorial event held in honor of those victims who lost their lives as a result of a crime committed in Berrien County, in 2017-2018.
UNAUTHORIZED BURNING… Hartford Police and Fire departments were dispatched to this residence on Center Street, due to a homeowner burning leaves out in the open which then spread to set the house on fire Thursday morning, April 4. City Ordinance prohibits any burning of yard waste. Firefighters extinguished the fire in short order with minimal damage to the structure. The homeowner was cited by Police for the violation. Hartford Fire Department Chief Robby Harting reminds all that burning of any leaves in the city is banned completely. The city will conduct a curbside brush and leaf pickup April 22 through May 3. (TCR photo by Jon Bisnett)
This year, on Friday, April 12, the office will again be hosting a memorial event in honor of those victims who lost their lives as a result of a crime committed in Berrien County, in 2018-2019. The noontime balloon-launching event at the St. Joseph Courthouse will provide an opportunity for families and friends of deceased victims to gather together and honor the memory of their loved one by launching a balloon in the victim’s memory and submitting a positive article about their loved one to be posted on Berrien County’s website for others to read. Staff from Lory’s Place has been invited to participate on the day of the memorial event at the Courthouse and share information about their resources for Grief Healing and Education. Lory’s Place staff will be available after the event to assist any of the event participants with follow–up services and resources. It is hoped that the event will serve as a reminder to the community of the pain and suffering that victims and their families endure as a result of crimes in the community. The event will also serve as an encouragement to everyone that victims are not forgotten and that there is hope for restoration and healing for those whose lives have been forever changed as a result of losing a loved one. The event will be held at the Berrien County Courthouse in St. Joseph, 811 Port St. State Police offers tips for a safe prom season With high school prom season approaching, the Michigan State Police (MSP) is advising students to make smart decisions and take extra precaution to stay safe while celebrating. “Prom is an exciting time for high school students and we want to encourage teens to have fun by making good choices,” said Tpr. Holly Higgs, Niles Post. “Students should know the consequences of underage drinking. There are legal ramifications, but most importantly, you can get yourself or someone else seriously injured or killed.” Not only is it illegal for anyone under 21 to have alcohol in their system, but it is illegal for someone under 21 to have alcohol in their possession at any time, regardless of whether they’ve consumed it. The consequences of underage drinking can include being cited or arrested for Minor In Possession (MIP) or for Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) if a teen chooses to drive. Additionally, many employers, colleges and military recruiters take alcohol-related offenses into consideration when hiring or accepting applications. Parents play an important role in keeping their teen safe on prom night. Parents are encouraged to talk to their child about evening plans and know how to get in contact with him/her. Parents should confirm details of parties with other adults, making sure alcohol will not be present at any gathering their child will be attending. Keeping pertinent phone numbers and addresses on hand for any location their child is visiting and arranging for safe transportation is also very important. Here are some tips that can help keep prom night safe: Avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs; abstain from sexual activity; don’t drink and drive; don’t get into a car with an intoxicated driver; wear a seat belt at all times while traveling in an automobile; if hiring a limo service, make sure the service is properly licensed with the state of Michigan; watch out for your date and others around you; get directions to the location of the prom or other gatherings; keep parents or guardians informed of your whereabouts. National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day The Voice. Change. Hope. Alliance is partnering with Lakeland Health and local law enforcement for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The collaborative effort will provide a secure, convenient, and responsible drive-through service for community members to dispose of unwanted or unused prescription drugs. The event will take place near the southeast corner of the Lakeland Center for Outpatient Services, located at 3900 Hollywood Road in St. Joseph and Lakeland Medical Suites, located at 42 N. St. Joseph Avenue in Niles. Signs placed throughout the complex will direct drivers to the covered, drop off location. Anyone who is not able to participate on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day can anonymously drop off their unused and unwanted medications for disposal at the Niles Law Enforcement Complex 24-hours-a-day, and at any other local law enforcement department, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., excluding holidays. The service is free and anonymous with no questions asked. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medications, such as flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash, pose potential health and safety hazards. In fall 2017, Americans nationwide did their part to reduce the opioid crisis by bringing the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and its more than 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners a record-setting 912,305 pounds—456 tons—of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for disposal at more than 5,300 collection sites. This brings the total amount of prescription drugs collected by DEA since the fall of 2010 to 9,015,668 pounds, or 4,508 tons. Additional collection sites in Berrien County can be located on the community resources tab at www.voicechangehope.org. Collection sites across the state of Michigan can be found by visiting www.dea.gov.
Trooper assaulted during arrest On Friday, April 5 at 3:40 p.m., a Michigan State Police Trooper from the Niles Post stopped a vehicle in the City of Benton Harbor on Odgen Avenue near Division Avenue. The driver smelled of intoxicants and would not provide a driver’s license. When asked to step from the vehicle, the driver refused. The trooper opened the driver’s door to place him under arrest. During this, a struggle ensued and the driver was able to put the vehicle into drive and accelerate away from the scene as the trooper hung onto the door and steering wheel. The suspect driver/vehicle traveled approximately 1,070 feet before crashing into a parked vehicle. This collision threw the trooper from the suspect vehicle onto the roadway. The suspect driver then attempted to flee on foot and continued to resist arrest. The trooper took the suspect into custody with the assistance of an off duty police officer and responding officers. The trooper and suspect were treated for minor injuries at Lakeland Hospital-St. Joseph and released. The 32-year-old male suspect was lodged at the Berrien County Jail on the following charges: Carrying Concealed Weapon; Firearm Felonious Assault; Resisting & Obstructing arrest; Flee & Elude; Operating While Intoxicated-3rd Offense; Felon in Possession of a Firearm; Felony Firearm. Troopers were assisted at the scene by Benton Harbor Police and Benton Township Police.