It was an extremely well-behaved Fourth of July celebration in St. Joseph last week. Public Safety Director Steve Neubecker says despite all the activity downtown, things from a law enforcement standpoint were calm. He was joined by City Manager John Hodgson for a time on July 3rd and says they could see the restrooms from Broad Street for the first time in his 25 years with the department.
“This is normally a large gathering of teenagers at this time, we have numerous fights that always occur there during the 4th of July fireworks,” Neubecker told the St. Joseph City Commission on Monday. “This year, there were no fights at the 4th of July fireworks on the 3rd of July.”
He adds for the first time in years, there were no assaults, no reported thefts, no liquor violations, and no drug arrests, but they did issue 113 parking tickets. Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey says while city officers had no liquor violations, his deputies did write 10 alcohol tickets at Silver Beach County Park over the holiday weekend due to the zero-tolerance policy for booze on the beach.
“There’s plenty of bars on top of the hill as I tell people,” said Bailey. “Go there, have fun, have dinner, have some drinks. You bring it to the beach and it’s going to cost you money because we’re going to write you a ticket and we’re going to kick you off the beach.”
They said they heard similar reports from South Haven police that crowds there had also settled down considerably this year compared to a few years back when the city cleared the beach prior to the fireworks. Bailey noted the trouble this year went north to Grand Haven, where a brawl on the pier forced police to close it off in the afternoon prior to the fireworks.
Both Bailey and Neubecker recommended keeping the city of St. Joseph’s fireworks on July 3rd in conjunction with South Haven, New Buffalo, and Baroda with how well the change worked this year.