BRIDGMAN — It was year-in-review time for the Bridgman City Council earlier this week, as both the police and fire departments gave their annual reports to city leaders.
Police Chief Daniel Unruh reported it had been a “fairly busy year for the guys” with 1,864 complaints/calls for service, up from 1,777 in 2017. However, Unruh said sexual assaults, burglaries, auto thefts, larcenies, frauds and property destruction had all decreased, though aggravated and non‐aggravated assaults rose slightly. Increased activity was seen in assist calls, including motorist assists, lock‐outs, property or vacation checks, bank runs and other officer assists to residents and motorists.
There were 52 narcotics violations, up from 46, but Unruh said the known violators were being check on nightly. Verbal warnings went up to 1,329 from 1,077, with the officers given the discretion to decide between verbal warnings and issuing tickets.
Unruh noted that other than Chikaming Township, Bridgman is the only agency in its immediate area that provides 24-hour protection throughout the year, something initiated after he joined the force in 2013 because he felt the citizens deserve to be protected around-the-clock. In addition to the chief, the force includes five full-time officers and five part-time officers, plus four unpaid volunteer reserve officers who together logged a total of 220 reserve hours.
Unruh characterized Bridgman as “peaceful” and “pretty typical of South Berrien County communities,” although it does have to watch for drug traffic along I-94.
Fire Chief Joel Buist summarized 2018 activity, which featured 200 calls, up from 175 last year. That figure included 13 fires, 120 rescue and emergency medical calls, 15 for calls for hazardous conditions but no fire present, and 16 false alarms. Additionally, the department logged 180 hours of community service in such activities as manning the mobile food pantry and fire safety and first-aid training at the schools.
Buist explained that although Bridgman is considered a volunteer force, the firefighters do get paid and have the same training as full-time firefighters. He noted that one firefighter, Bill Boyd Sr., has served an “unheard of” 65 years with the department.
Buist said Bridgman was one of the very few communities in the state to have an ISO (Insurance Safety Office) of 4, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best. He said the department’s new software will be helpful in maintaining that rating, if not improve it, which significantly impacts both residential and business fire insurance premiums.
In other business, former Mayor Hannah Anderson noted her letter of resignation as coordinator of the Celebrate Bridgman festival, and cautioned the council that due to declining donations it would be a challenge to continue the activities, especially the parade, without a partner or sponsor.