Police step up efforts to keep the peace on South Haven beaches for Fourth of July

Posted at 10:08 PM, Jul 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-03 23:12:25-04

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — Peace is a priority this Fourth of July. Mayhem broke out during last year’s celebration. Police received dozens of reports of loud music, public drunkenness, broken bottles and fights. Almost 50 people were arrested that night. So this year South Haven police said they took a different approach.

“If you show up with alcohol and drinking in public, especially on beaches and parks, you will go to jail,” said Sgt. Kyle Griffith with the South Haven Police Department. “It’s staffed extra heavy.”

Sgt. Griffith said there’s an additional 25 officers and deputies, from several local agencies, patrolling both North and South beach this year. They’ve even set up two command posts on both beaches, each of them staffed with Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office corrections officers.

“We staffed extra earlier today to prevent the alcohol from ever making it to the beach,” said Sgt. Griffith. “So far on South Beach alone we’ve only had one person with alcohol.”

North Beach was just as quiet. Police checked each visitor’s bags as they entered the beach. They especially searched all coolers looking for alcohol as it’s not permitted on the beach at anytime.

“We’re not naive,” said Sgt. Griffith. "Some of it’s going to make it passed us but we do search coolers. People are given a choice: if they want to enjoy our beaches they have to subject their coolers and containers to searches much like any concert.”