Free rides offered for St. Patrick’s Day revelers

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY Wood County Safe Communities announced today that there have been five fatal crashes in Wood County for the calendar year 2017, compared to three for the same time frame in 2016. St.Patrick’s Day rides offered St. Patrick’s Day has become one of the nation’s most popular times to celebrate and party. Unfortunately, too many people are taking to the roads after drinking alcohol, making this holiday also one of the most dangerous. In fact, 30 people were killed in drunk driving crashes across the nation during the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (March 16-18) in 2015. To keep the roads safer, WCSC is reaching out with an important life-saving message and warning: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. Safe Communities is teaming up with local businesses and organizations for the annual Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride event. The coalition is offering free rides to those who are unable to drive. Don’t wait until you’ve already been drinking to make your transportation decision. There’s no such thing as being “OK to Drive.” Just one or two drinks can impair judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested or causing a crash; killing yourself or someone else if you get behind the wheel. If you find yourself unable to drive this St. Patrick’s Day, call 419-823-7765 for a FREE ride home anywhere in Bowling Green. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. If you plan to celebrate with alcohol this St. Patrick’s Day, follow these tips to stay safer:  Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both. …

BG Police Division sees drop in use of force

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Police Division has seen a steady increase in community relations efforts, and a decrease in force being used by officers, according to Chief Tony Hetrick. Hetrick presented an annual report during a strategic planning meeting with City Council on Saturday. “We don’t police the community. We police for the community,” Hetrick said. Poor police-community relations nationwide peaked the last few years, causing several police departments to examine their relationships with those they serve. “Community engagement is a hot button topic all over the nation,” Hetrick said. That’s something Bowling Green Police Division has done for years, but they are also making an increased effort. “We can always do better.” Last year the “Coffee with a Cop” program started, efforts are being made to engage with BGSU students more, and police participated in a panel discussion on minority relations. Police also met with students in a class teaching English as a second language. “It really helped us build trust with them,” Hetrick said. In August, when new international students arrive at BGSU, the police will meet with the group again. “I think we enjoy tremendous trust in the community,” Hetrick said. The chief also presented his annual report on police force being used. In 2016, there were 21 responses to resistance or aggression reports filed by office. That is a decrease from the 40 reports in 2015. The officers’ reports showed that in 19 cases, no weapons were used. In two cases, Tasers were used. According to the reports, there were no incidents when officers used firearms, batons or pepper spray…

BG Police Division is not an arm of ICE

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Police Division is not in the pursuit of undocumented immigrants. “People think the police division is an arm of ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” said Major Justin White. “That misinformation breeds fear.” To try to calm those fears, Bowling Green Police Chief Tony Hetrick has met with members of the Latino organization La Conexion, and White has met with students and staff at the English Language Center at Bowling Green State University. “We are not out enforcing immigration, determining if someone should be here,” White said. “We are not stopping people driving down the street who look like immigrants to see if they belong here.” Across the nation, anxiety spiked recently after a series of raids made by U.S. immigration authorities. Hundreds of undocumented immigrants in several states have been arrested, according to President Donald Trump as part of his crackdown on immigrants living in the U.S. illegally. Officials said the raids targeted known criminals, but they also netted some immigrants without criminal records. Last month, Trump broadened the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all. That has led to fear throughout the country, and has led to a petition calling for BGSU to become a sanctuary campus. White said it is his understanding that international students have nothing to fear. “In order for them to get accepted into BGSU, they would have to have the proper paperwork,” he said. The Bowling Green Police Division has worked with ICE in the past, probably once or…

Super Bowl party drinkers should hand off keys to designated drivers

From SAFE COMMUNITIES OF WOOD COUNTY Football fans across the country will celebrate America’s most watched national sporting event, Super Bowl LI, on Sunday, February 5. For many, this celebration includes drinking alcohol. Drunk driving can be deadly. A driver is considered alcohol-impaired with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, but even a small amount of alcohol can impair judgment and reaction times enough to make driving unsafe. According to NHTSA, in 2015 10,265 people—29 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes in the United States—were killed in crashes that involved an impaired driver. Super Bowl Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk. If you want to be the MVP of Super Bowl LI, volunteer to be a designated driver to help your family and friends get home safely. Drunk driving only leads to disaster and tragedy. It is never worth the risk. If you do plan to drink, remember to pass the keys to a sober driver before kickoff. Designated sober drivers for Super Bowl weekend should refrain from drinking alcohol and enjoy the game with food and non-alcoholic drinks instead. They can tweet @NHTSAgov during Super Bowl LI to be featured on NHTSA’s national Wall of Fame. It would be great to see designated drivers from Wood County on the Wall of Fame, tag us @SafeCommWC as well. This Super Bowl weekend, be a team player and help keep impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel. Designate your sober driver before the big game begins and remember: Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk.

Aggressive driving is an increasing problem

From WOOD COUNTY SAFE COMMUNITIES Wood County Safe Communities announced today there have been four fatal crashes this year, compared to two at the same time last year. According to The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving has become a major concern of the public, ranking at or near the top of traffic safety issues in national surveys. The Foundation defines aggressive driving as “any single unsafe driving behavior performed deliberately and with ill-intention.” As many as 56 percent of fatal crashes involve one or more unsafe driving behaviors typically associated with aggressive driving. Speeding is the most common contributing factor and is involved in nearly one in three deadly crashes. Tips to combat aggressive driving Don’t have a “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude Plan your trip Avoid dangerous interactions and confrontations Avoid eye contact with aggressive drivers Do not take the actions of other drivers personally Be a courteous and patient driver Do not tailgate and use the left lane only when passing Obey the speed limit Use signals and with plenty of warning Use the horn only as a safety device Identify alternative routes Just be late Get out of the way and let an aggressive driver pass Don’t challenge aggressive drivers

North Baltimore motorcyclist dies in Saturday crash

A North Baltimore man has been identified as the fatality in a Saturday afternoon accident on East Wooster Street in front of the Meijer store. Donald W. Backus, Jr., 33, of North Baltimore, died when he was ejected from the Suzuki motorcycle he was operating shortly before 4 p.m. Saturday. According to Bowling Green police, Backus was driving at a high rate of speed and had passed a number of vehicles when he struck the rear of another vehicle. He was ejected and was struck by an oncoming car. He died at the scene.