Local police officials meet at Comerica Park to promote safe summer

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published May 27, 2015

 Paws and Detroit Police Chief James Craig pose in front of Comerica Park on May 22 after a discussion on summer safety.

Paws and Detroit Police Chief James Craig pose in front of Comerica Park on May 22 after a discussion on summer safety.

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DETROIT — Summer in Michigan is almost in full swing, and to make sure residents safely enjoy the next few months, a handful of local police officials are urging residents to take precautions this season.

On May 19, AAA Michigan, in partnership with the Detroit Tigers, held a press conference to discuss summer safety on the field in front of the visitor’s dugout at Comerica Park.

AAA Michigan Public Affairs Director Susan Hiltz and Detroit Tigers Vice President of Communications Ron Colangelo hosted Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, Michigan State Police Capt. Monica Yesh, Oakland County Sheriff’s Capt. Curtis Childs and Wayne County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Scott Gatti for the discussion. Drunken driving, distracted driving, underage drinking and seat belt use were discussed.

“You could basically have this type of a gathering to communicate these messages every day,”  Colangelo said. “It’s that important to our community and to our Tigers fans each and every day who come out to see their favorite ball club.”

With numerous celebrations and graduations on the horizon, Wickersham discussed underage drinking in light of a fatal crash that took place May 8 at Stony Creek Metropark in Shelby Township. Three 17-year-olds died when their  vehicle crossed the center line, hit a guardrail and rolled down a grassy embankment into the Stony Creek spillway, near the park’s south dam. Two teens survived the crash.

Although the accident is still under investigation, Wickersham said police found alcohol in the vehicle. He said education is the key to preventing underage drinking.

“What we’re trying to do is trying to get the message out to the kids,” Wickersham said. “Underage drinking is illegal. It has consequences affecting your own life, and it has consequences that are deadly.”

Wickersham also stressed that parents, too, are part of the underage drinking equation.

“Parents: Know where your children are at, know what they’re doing, know where they’re going,” Wickersham said.

Craig emphasized the importance of drinking responsibly. He said that one-third of traffic- related deaths in Michigan are tied to drunken driving.

“The message is clear: Don’t do it,” Craig said. “Act responsibly, and just know that we’re going to be out — the Detroit Police Department and all of our partners — to make sure we have a safe summer.”

Childs discussed boater safety, noting that there are 800,000 registered watercrafts in the state, and in Oakland County alone, there are 452 lakes. Childs said it is important that all boaters complete a safety class offered through the county. Boaters must have enough life jackets for each person occupying the boat, as well as a fire extinguisher, a whistle or air horn, and flares.

Drinking while boating was another subject that Childs discussed. He said that the legal limit for a boater’s blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent. 

“We want you to enjoy yourselves on the water, but be aware of your alcohol content and how  much you’re drinking,” Childs said.

Gatti discussed distracted driving, especially among teens. He said that driving as a graduated level one or two driver, using a phone while driving is illegal. Texting while driving in Michigan is also illegal, he said.

It takes six seconds for drivers to look at their phone, Gatti said.

“That’s basically the distance from home plate to beyond the left field ... home run fence. It might not be a long distance for Miggy, but it is for the rest of us.”

Yesh took the microphone to promote an upcoming seat belt crackdown, called Click It or Ticket. Over the next two weeks, Yesh said, police will set up seat belt enforcement zones.

“Put your seat belts on. There will be a big sign that says, ‘We’re watching you. Put your seat belt on,’ and if you don’t, you’ll be stopped and ticketed. I don’t know how to warn you more than that, but we’re asking you to put your seat belt on.”

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