Police Reports By Annette Christie Prostitution sting nets 35 arrests in Northern Michigan Michigan State Police posts and multijurisdictional task force teams have joined with participating sheriff’s offices and city police departments to conduct enforcement operations across 19 counties in northern Michigan aimed at arresting individuals using the Internet to obtain the services of prostitutes. To date, 35 arrests have been made in seven counties, during nine enforcement initiatives. Because of these efforts, 73 total criminal counts have been levied, with 70 of the criminal counts evenly split between solicitation for prostitution and using a computer to commit a crime. The remaining arrest counts involved marijuana possession, oxycodone possession and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. One person was arrested twice during these operations. These enforcement operations are part of a larger effort to raise awareness of and put an end to human trafficking in northern Michigan. Other efforts have included educating business owners and civic groups on indicators of potential human trafficking situations. Anyone wishing to report behavior they believe to be associated with prostitution-related activity or other forms of human trafficking is encouraged to contact their nearby Michigan State Police post, or closest sheriff’s office or city police department. Callers may remain anonymous.
Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over drunken driving campaign aims to reduce traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries The end of summer is traditionally marked by the Labor Day holiday, a time for friends and families to enjoy pool parties, backyard barbecues, and other activities to enjoy the last days of summer. Sadly, the Labor Day holiday has also become one of the deadliest, with drunk drivers endangering themselves and others. This year, the Michigan State Police Niles Post is partnering with the Office of Highway Safety Planning to get drunk drivers off the roads and help save lives. People need to understand that it is up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober this Labor Day and every day. Drunk driving is a huge problem and the numbers are rising, little by little. This is not a ticketing campaign. It is a campaign to get the message out that drunk driving is illegal, and it takes lives. The high visibility, national enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, runs from August 17 thru September 3. During this campaign, law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk driving. Increased state and national messages about the dangers of impaired driving, coupled with enforcement and increased officers on the road, aim to drastically reduce drunk driving on the nation’s roadways. In 2017, 320 people died in Michigan as a result of alcohol-involved traffic crashes and 221 people died as a result of drug involved traffic crashes. Nationwide, between 2012 and 2016, on average 10,000 people were killed each year in alcohol and drug involved crashes; one person every 50 minutes in 2016. That is the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing each year, with no survivors. Nationwide, over the Labor Day holiday in 2016, there were 433 traffic fatalities. Forty-three percent of those crashes involved drivers who had been drinking. Among drivers between the ages of 18-34, 47% had a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher. Over the 2017 Labor Day holiday period in Michigan, 15 people died in traffic crashes. Of the 15 people killed over the Labor Day holiday, 26.6% involved alcohol. In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08% or higher, although motorists can be arrested at any BAC level if an officer believes they are impaired. First time offender convicted of drunk driving faces: Up to 93 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, up to 360 of community service, six points on their driver’s license, up to 180 days with a suspended license; restricted license possible after 30 days. First time offender convicted of drunk driving with a BAC of .17% or higher faces enhanced penalties including: Up to 180 days in jail; up to $700 fine; one-year license suspension, with license restriction permitted after 45 days if the vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock device; mandatory one-year rehabilitation program. Anyone that refuses a breath test the first time is given a one-year driver’s license suspension. For a second refusal within seven years, it is a two-year suspension. The Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign is supported with federal traffic safety funds provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
First human case of West Nile virus detected in Berrien County Berrien County Health Department officials have confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in Berrien County for this year. The case was in an adult woman who became ill in late July, showing symptoms of West Nile virus. As mosquitoes remain active in Southwest Michigan into the fall months, Berrien County Health Department officials urge residents to stay vigilant and protect themselves against mosquito bites to reduce their risk for West Nile virus. In Michigan, outbreaks of WNV have been occurring every summer since 2002. West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Most people who contract the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. About one in five infected persons will have mild illness which may include fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. About one in 150 infected people will become severely ill, and may experience symptoms such as a stiff neck, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, convulsions, or paralysis. More serious complications are associated with neurological illnesses, like meningitis and encephalitis. People 60 and older are more susceptible to severe WNV symptoms. Residents should be aware of sick-acting or dead birds, especially crows and blue jays, as that may be an indication of West Nile virus in a community. Residents can report sick-acting or dead wildlife to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by submitting an online report. The most effective way to reduce your risk of mosquito bites and WNV is to follow the 3 R’s: Remove – Eliminate opportunities for mosquitoes to breed outside your home in pools of standing water. Once a week, dump water that is collecting outside in buckets, flowerpots, toys, kiddie pools, pet bowls, spare tires, etc. Keep gutters clean and free of debris. Repel – Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved insect repellents when outdoors, such as those containing the active ingredient DEET. Always follow the directions on the label. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Repair – Keep mosquitoes outside. Make sure your doors and windows have tightly fitting screens. Repair any tears or other openings. Use air conditioning when possible. More information can be found at www.bchdmi.org or www.michi- gan.gov/westnilevirus.