Police Reports By Annette Christie Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over The holidays are a time for family, friends, and co-workers to celebrate. Whether it’s an office party, a family member’s home, or a gathering at the bar, it is essential to plan ahead and have a way to get home safely after the party ends. To help spread the message about the dangers of impaired driving, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in partnership with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and the Berrien County and Van Buren County Sheriff’s Offices, are working to encourage safe and sober driving this holiday season. The national high-visibility enforcement campaign, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over”, runs from December 13-31. During this period, local law enforcement will show zero tolerance for drunk and drugged driving. Increased enforcement, along with increased messages about the dangers of driving while impaired, aim to drastically reduce crashes, fatalities, and injuries on our roadways. “We understand that during the holidays, people are busy checking items off their to-do list and attending parties,” said Van Buren County Sheriff Daniel Abbott. Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Robert Boyce added, “We need people to remember – it’s up to them to make the smart decision to drive sober, not just during the holidays, but all year long. Stay safe and stay sober on the roads.” Statistics show that there is a lot of work to do to put an end to impaired driving. Nationally, 10,874 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes in 2017, equating to one person killed every 48 minutes. In December 2017, 885 people lost their lives in traffic crashes in this country involving a drunk driver. In Michigan, impaired driving represented 45.7 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2017. This is why the Berrien and Van Buren County Sheriff’s Offices are working hard to remind drivers that drunk driving is not only illegal, it is a matter of life and death. Drunk driving isn’t the only risk on the road. If drivers are impaired by any substance – alcohol or drugs – they should not get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Driving while impaired is illegal, period. If you feel different, you drive different. Citizens are reminded of the many resources available to get them home safely. “Impaired driving of any form is not acceptable behavior,” said Sheriff Daniel Abbott. “It is essential to plan a sober ride home before you ever leave for the party. That’s why, during the December holiday, we will make zero exceptions for impaired driving. There are just no excuses,” he said. If people have a friend who is about to drink and drive, they should take the keys away and make arrangements to get the friend home safely. Shop with a Cop – great success On Saturday December 8, 2018, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division held their annual “Shop with a Cop” program. The 2018 “Shop with a Cop” program took place at the Niles area Wal-Mart. Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division Deputies Kimberly Fedison and Katie Bauer organized this annual event and they spent countless volunteer hours soliciting area businesses and individuals to assist in sponsoring this program. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division was able to obtain over $7,000 in donations to cover the costs of this event. This year the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division partnered up with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Chaplains, the Berrien County Animal Control Office, the Berrien Springs – Oronoko Township Police Department, the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety, the Bridgman City Police Department, the Boys & Girls Club, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Sworn Deputies to make this year’s “Shop with a Cop” program a success. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division along with the partner agencies and organizations assisted ten (10) families and thirty-four (34) children by allowing the children to shop for Christmas gifts for themselves, their family members, and their friends. In addition to providing the funding to allow the children to shop, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division also provided holiday food baskets to the ten families, so they could enjoy a wonderful holiday feast this year. The ten families and children were from the areas of Niles, Berrien Springs, New Buffalo and Benton Harbor. The ten families and their children were referred to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office by various schools and civic organizations, who felt they could use the assistance this year. Without the help of businesses and civic organizations, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division along with the partner agencies and organizations would not have been able to assist all ten families and their children. The following businesses and/or civic organizations donated money, goods, and services to this function: Siemans in Bridgman; Michiana Christian Embassy; Milano’s Pizza; Pike Funeral Home & Cremation Services; Friends for Berrien Springs; Midwest Waste Solutions; Michiana Recycling & Disposal; Landfill Management Company; Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Division; Wightman & Associates; Chemical Bank; D.A. Dodd; Lane Automotive; Subway Restaurant; and the Niles area Wal-Mart. Trooper organizes return of stolen presents On November 29, 2018, Michigan State Police Trooper Benoit of the Michigan State Police Paw Paw post investigated a break-in at a Galesburg apartment complex. During his investigation he spoke with a 38-year-old female victim and learned all the presents she purchased for her 9-year-old son, Christopher was stolen. Without the woman knowing, Tpr. Benoit reached out to S.T.O.P. (State Trooper Outreach Partnership) and organized the purchase and return of the presents. Tpr. Benoit had a list of several items which included Pokémon cards, Beyblades and most importantly, a Lord Voldemort Harry Potter wand. He delivered the presents and some additional holiday cheer to the shocked woman on Friday afternoon. S.T.O.P. is a very small non-profit made up of Troopers and community members who raise money to help those in need. County K-9 has health insurance In October 2018, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office applied for a K-9 Health Insurance Grant through the National Police Dog Foundation. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office was advised that fifty (50) of these grants would be awarded to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States. Due to the specific grant requirements, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office was able to apply for the grants for two of the three Berrien County Sheriff’s Office K-9s. In 2017, the National Police Dog Foundation launched their K-9 Health Insurance Fund, which was established from an initial donation by Petplan Pet Insurance. The fund is supported by donations from the public to the K-9 Health Insurance Fund and a $50 donation from Petplan for each new pet insurance policy. The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office is honored to be one of two agencies in the State of Michigan to be chosen for this grant. Berrien County Sheriff’s Office canine Mika is a 2-year-old female Belgian Malinois and is trained in narcotic detection, tracking, and handler protection.