A law enforcement task force made up of multiple agencies will help keep things safe and peaceful on the Muskegon River in Newaygo County this summer.
Last summer, the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office partnered with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan State Police, and the Newaygo Police Department to create a Muskegon River Multi Agency Enforcement Task for increased presence and enforcement on the Muskegon River. The task force was created in response to complaints on the river including trespassing, disorderly conduct, underage drinking, littering, and other violations of the law.
The task force allows more resources and personnel to be assigned to enforcement on the Muskegon River. They also created a “River Watch” program to utilize homeowners along the river and volunteers to assist in spotting law violators on the river, and reporting to enforcement officers patrolling the river.
They have been working with community members, livery owners, the County Board of Commissioners, the City of Newaygo, and the townships along the river to put the project together. Their goal is to change the culture of the river and expectations of those that use the river.
The Muskegon River is approximately 40 miles long, from Croton Dam to Maple Island Road, in Newaygo County. The enforcement plan calls for more patrol craft on the river, as well as patrol cars on the river corridor.
“We have deputies, conservation officers, and police officers working on the river in patrol boats,” said Newaygo County Sheriff Pat Hedlund. “In addition, the Michigan State Police and the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office are patrolling roads along the Muskegon River. These officers will be proactively looking for people who are violating laws regarding trespassing, indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, drunk driving, drugs, underage drinking, and other violations.”
During the summer of 2014, police made 234 traffic stops along the river corridor and at river access sites. They issued 276 traffic citations. There were 136 total arrests and/or appearance citations on the river. Overall, officers gave 322 verbal warnings where citations could have been issued but were not.
There will be upwards of five patrol boats on the water each weekend all summer long. Each boat will have two officers on board. The officers in boats are from the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office, the DNR, and the Newaygo Police Department.
“We want people to have fun and enjoy themselves, but we also want people to know that we will enforce the law in order to protect people and property,” Hedlund said.