CASS COUNTY, Mich. — Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke responded to FOX 17's request for comment regarding events at the Diamond Lake Sandbar on July 4th.
In videos posted to social media, crowds are seen gathered on the sandbar.
Diamond Lake in Cass County, Michigan just now:— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) July 4, 2020
A COVID-19 Petri dish...pic.twitter.com/rSzYHGTm0o
The Sheriff's department says they are aware of the vent held for several years in LaGrange and Jefferson Townships on the water.
They said in recent years the attendance at the event has grown. The Sheriff says neither their department nor local government support the event, while it does garner support from local businesses.
Concerns over the growing event have increased in recent years. The Sheriff's department said they have had multiple issues and concerns with attendees reaching the sandbar because the surrounding lakefronts are privately owned and people would trespass on private property without permission in order to get to the sandbar.
Additionally, the sheriff's department says there were concerns over the following: "excessive alcohol consumption, underage consumption of alcohol, public indecency, hazardous boating practices and a lack of public order."
As a result, they stepped up patrols of the event to try to control crowds. They added patrols to the water with the help of funding from lake associations and other local support.
The Sheriff's Department said in the past the event has required a permit.
This year, things were different, as the Sheriff's Department says the DNR determined that the party on the sandbar did not require a permit.
The fireworks on the lake that followed the event at the sandbar, however, did require a permit.
The sheriff said they can't cancel events on public lakes, but did reach out to organizers regarding their concerns about the crowd due to the pandemic.
Event organizers reportedly did provide periodic announcements about the risks of COVID-19 and the need to socially distance.
All reports of possible criminal charges are being forwarded to the Cass County Prosecutor for them to look over.
The Sheriff's Office said the event remains under investigation.