By Annette Christie
Watervliet City Police Department held a Neighborhood Watch info meeting The Watervliet Police Department held an informational meeting on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019 at 1:00 p.m., on the subject of rebuilding the neighborhood watch program. Chief Tim Sutherland was joined by about six residents at City Hall. He said that the interest was there from those present to move this new initiative into action. With a plan for monthly meetings, the Chief said he challenged those in attendance to bring one other person from the neighborhoods to try and get more people involved. Sutherland said that at one time the community of Watervliet had a watch program but it ultimately dissolved. He prefaced that this is not a police program, not an extension of the police department, but rather a community-based program to encourage neighborly relationships for the betterment of the community as a whole. Meetings will include discussions on topics such as: Safe houses for children before and after school, vetting processes, areas of concern, and duties/ responsibilities. Sutherland anticipates having speakers to talk about safety, security, and to share ideas. He said it is a forum to meet with the public and hear their concerns. Officer Toby Thornbury, who serves as the community’s School Resource Officer, will lead the meetings and the program rebuild, under the direction of Chief Sutherland. Sutherland, who has been head of the department since 2015 said this has been on his radar since he started. “The more ears and eyes in a community, the better,” Sutherland said. The Watervliet Police Department includes five full-time, three part-time, and six reserve officers. National Neighborhood Watch began in 1972 as sheriffs and police chiefs across the country where looking for a crime prevention program that would incorporate citizen involvement and address the increasing number of burglaries taking place, especially in rural and suburban areas. The program received its first grant funding that year from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. Since its beginning, Neighborhood Watch Programs have grown into a proactive, community-oriented endeavor providing a unique infrastructure that brings together local officials, law enforcement and citizens for the protection of their communities. Interested parties in the Neighborhood Watch Program can contact the Watervliet Police Department at 269-463-5112.
Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey announces he will seek a 6th term
Sheriff Bailey will seek the Republican Nomination in the primary election on August 4, 2020 Sheriff Bailey states: “It has been an honor and privilege to serve as your Sheriff for the past 20 years. I am seeking re-election in 2020 in order to continue the strong programs already in place and to explore better ways to serve the residents of Berrien County.” His focus continues to be on improving Public Safety for the entire County. He is committed to working with the county commissioners to maintain the level of service this administration has brought to the public. Bailey says he is proud of what his administration has accomplished and wants to continue the following: Maintain the high level of training for all Sheriff’s Office personnel; provide a monthly written report to the townships and villages of the jurisdictions the Sheriff’s Department serves; continue to seek out Emergency Management/ Homeland Security grants, providing public safety in Berrien County; contract with New Buffalo Area Schools and Benton Harbor Schools to provide a School Resource Officer (SRO) in their school districts and also contract to provide a Deputy for the Boys & Girls Club-Benton Harbor; work with Riverwood Mental Health Authority to establish a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). CIT is a police mental health collaborative program and training that helps guide interactions between law enforcement and those living with a mental illness. He further wishes to continue the combined relationship with the Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Unit and the Michigan State Police Southwest Enforcement Team (SWET) to provide drug enforcement in the tri-county area. This merger allowed them to put three deputies back on the road in the south county where they have seen an increase in calls for service over the last several years. Sheriff Bailey said he would like to continue with a major remodeling project to the Receiving area of the jail which will allow for more bed space. This project also enhances security by replacing the cameras throughout the jail and installing emergency call buttons. Additionally he would like to maintain a Victim Services Unit (VSU). This unit is comprised of 17 members who volunteer to serve the victims and survivors of crisis situations. The VSU is a triage for individuals traumatized by the initial impact of grief. If he is re-elected he will continue to offer special programs in the jail for the inmates. Some of the programs include GED, Literacy, Forgotten Man Ministries, Substance Use Disorder Syndrome (SUDS), Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), and Fresh Start. “I look forward to serving Berrien County as your Sheriff for four more years. I want to continue to serve the county and work to ensure the safety of our communities.”