ALPENA - As Thanksgiving weekend has become one of the busiest of the year for travelers and retail outlets, heavy traffic and alcohol consumption have also made it among the busiest for law enforcement.
Sgt. Eric Hamp of the Alpena Police Department said this past weekend was not far removed from what he normally sees in terms of stops and arrests, but he guessed the holiday season usually sees at least a small uptick in alcohol and traffic-related infractions.
"Without running the numbers, I would say typically we see more alcohol-related complaints. People typically have days off for the holidays and tend to indulge in alcohol, which often times causes problems. A lot of times we'll see more domestic-related incidences as well ... related to the alcohol," he said. "And traffic accidents, typically because there are more people on the road traveling, especially during Thanksgiving, and then this year it didn't help with the weather, obviously."
His department had not scheduled any extra patrol cars for the weekend, but he observed there were, "without a doubt," more people at bars on Wednesday night than he'd seen on any other night this year. His department had one drunk driving arrest that night, tied to a larceny incident for which three others were arrested, one of whom had an outstanding child support warrant from Midland.
After corroborating Hamp's assertion that drunk driving and domestic violence incidents go up during the holiday season, Alpena County Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski said budget restrictions prevented him from staffing more officers as a precaution last weekend, but crime could have been worse.
"I review the blotters that we get from central every day, and it looks like this weekend was a pretty slow weekend for us, so that's a good thing," he said on Sunday.
Between 5 p.m. Wednesday and 3 p.m. Sunday, the Alpena County Sheriff Department reported six car/deer accidents, seven traffic stops, seven property damage crashes, three personal injury crashes, one assault, one larceny, one domestic violence incident, and one warrant pickup. All but the larceny and domestic violence incidents were up from Thanksgiving weekend last year.
Kieliszewski said drivers should exercise particular caution this season given increased deer activity and inclement weather, and Hamp agreed.
"Give yourself some extra time to get to where you need to be, and don't drink and drive," Hamp said. "That goes all year round, obviously, but again, during the holidays there are even more people on the road, so just be safe."
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.