By Annette Christie
Watervliet City patrols now carry Narcan
The Watervliet City Police force has now added another tool in their tool belt, this one to help those that may be dying of an opioid overdose. Chief Tim Sutherland said that all of the squad cars now have a supply of Naloxone or “Narcan.” The addition occurred about a month ago following the creation of a policy for the department to use it, and training on how the officers are to administer it. The supply of Narcan and the training was provided for free to the department.
The Watervliet Police force joins the fire department, ambulance service providers and neighboring police agencies in the carrying of Narcan. While they have not had to use it as of yet, they have responded to the need for it in which case the fire department or the ambulance providers have administered it. Sutherland said there are certain things to look for when responding to a medical call for help and things that they see in a person can tell them it should be used. Sutherland himself has seen it in action and is amazed at how quickly it can save someone.
Sutherland defends what some might see as saving drug addicts, “I’ve seen it when a kid has gotten into something they don’t realize and it saves a kid’s life.” While it may in fact save someone who is a drug addict, it may just be the action the person needs to seek additional help and resources. Additional help is available at the hospital or even through the court system if someone ends up there. “The courts provide a lot of options for people that may have gotten into trouble but really want help beating their addiction,” Sutherland says.
He warns people against thinking that opioid abuse is only in some neighborhoods. “This epidemic is a bad deal across the board,” Sutherland said adding, “It reaches all social levels.” Every day, 2,500 American youth abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time. Over 100 Americans died from overdose deaths every day in 2013 and was the leading cause of injury death that year, greater than car accidents and homicides.
The administration of Narcan counteracts with the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose, including heroin and prescription pills such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone, and Vicodin.
Other ways that the Watervliet Police Department is helping to battle this opioid epidemic is by being a host of a prescription drug disposal container. Sutherland recently had signs made that alert people that a prescription drug drop box is located at City Hall. They are put out during office hours.
Anyone wanting to dispose of old and unneeded prescription medications can bring the pill bottles to City Hall. They are accepted without any questions asked, logged, weighed, and double checked to assure that the drugs remain secure until provided to the Berrien County Forensic Lab to be properly disposed of.
Sutherland, in partnership with the Berrien County Health Department, said that the collection has gone from about five pounds in six months to five pounds in a month. “I check the locked box every month, log it in, create a complaint number, and create all the necessary documentation to provide a secure transfer of the prescriptions from us to the Forensic Lab,” Sutherland said.
He hopes to expand the collection numbers to help the community to get rid of these unwanted prescriptions and to keep them out of the city’s water supply. If they are unable to make it during City Hall hours, they should contact the City Police Department at (269) 463-4770 and make alternate arrangements.
Arrests made in Watervliet
Watervliet Police Patrolman Horton was on regular patrol and observed a suspicious vehicle and person at Hays Park on September 11. Horton made contact with the 36-year-old from Coloma and determined that the individual had an outstanding warrant out of the Coloma Township Police Department.
The individual was wanted for failure to appear on an operating while intoxicated charge. He was arrested on the warrant and lodged in the Berrien County Jail.
On September 8, Watervliet Police Chief Timothy Sutherland was investigating a complaint with an 18-year-old male subject from Watervliet. The subject was found to have an outstanding arrest warrant out of the Berrien County Circuit Court for failure to appear, an unrelated complaint.
The subject was arrested on the warrant and was lodged in the Berrien County Jail.
On September 11, Patrolman Horton made a traffic stop on a vehicle for a moving violation. Upon further investigation, it was determined that the 36-year-old male from Hagar Township was operating the vehicle with a suspended driver’s license.
He was cited and released pending a court date in Fifth District Court in St. Joseph. The vehicle was turned over to a licensed driver.
Coloma Police break up a stabbing or two
On September 11, 2017 the Coloma Township Police Department responded to a stabbing in progress in front of 277 N. Paw Paw St. The suspect was gone when officers initially arrived, but was quickly located and taken into custody by other responding officers.
The victim, a 38-year-old Covert man, was initially assaulted outside by a 30-year-old Benton Harbor man. Immediately following that incident, an associate of the 30-year-old Benton Harbor man produced a knife and also assaulted the 38-year-old Covert man, causing a laceration to the upper arm.
The associate, a 24-year-old Dowagiac man was arrested and lodged for assault less than murder and a parole violation detainer. Charges are being sought for the 30-year-old Benton Harbor man.
The victim was transported to Lakeland Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. The Coloma Township Police Department was assisted by the Watervliet Police Department and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.
Motorcycle vs. semi accident in Hartford
The Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Michigan State Police responded to a report of a motorcycle versus semi crash in Hartford Township on September 8 at approximately 5:55 p.m. The accident occurred on I-94 near the 47.6-mile-marker.
Upon arrival, they located a male subject laying on the ground near a motorcycle. Civilian passersby were assisting in rendering medical assistance to the male driver of the motorcycle. The subject’s leg was amputated below the knee. A tourniquet was applied to the subject’s leg to stop bleeding which was occurring.
During the course of the investigation, deputies determined that the driver of the motorcycle had rear ended the semi-tractor and trailer. The semi-truck had slowed to a near stop due to a traffic backup ahead and the motorcycle was unable to stop before colliding with the semi-trailer.
The driver of the motorcycle, a 26-year-old male from St. Joseph was transported via ambulance to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo. He was wearing a helmet.
Shootout leads to arrest of murder suspect
At approximately 5:20 p.m. on September 8, Michigan State Police Troopers and a deputy from the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that had been reported stolen out of Alabama. The traffic stop occurred on I-94 near Lawrence Township.
Shortly after the vehicle came to a stop, the driver exited and fired shots at the officers. The trooper and deputy returned gunfire, however, no one was struck. The suspect ultimately surrendered after all the rounds in his pistol were spent. He was taken into custody.
After the suspect’s arrest, it was learned that he was wanted for murder in Madison County, Alabama. The incident remains under investigation by the Michigan State Police Paw Paw Post.