2012-03-29 / Community

Sheriff Harris reports 2011-2012 snowmobile patrol one of the busiest in recent years


Deputies investigate a snowmobile accident on the Fox River Road in Seney Township, the operator lost control of the snowmobile which landed upright against a tree. Excessive speed was a factor in the accident and the operator is expected to recover. (submitted photo) Deputies investigate a snowmobile accident on the Fox River Road in Seney Township, the operator lost control of the snowmobile which landed upright against a tree. Excessive speed was a factor in the accident and the operator is expected to recover. (submitted photo) The Schoolcraft County Sheriff Department 2011-2012 Snowmobile Patrol was one of the busiest in recent years, and may possibly have been the busiest in the Upper Peninsula. “It’s still too early to tell,” said Sheriff Grant Harris, “but the reports we are getting from other counties in regards to lack of snow are indicating that our season was extremely busy.”

The department applied to the Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Grant Program for the amount of $15,403.30 and was awarded just $6,666 with a 15% match. The match is funded annually by the Eastern Upper Peninsula Snowmobile Association, of which the Seney Snowmobile Association is a member. This allowed for a total operating budget of $7,666 “We couldn’t perform this grant if it weren’t for the EUP Snowmobile Club, their annual donation to cover the match portion makes this possible,” commented Sheriff Harris. “The money that comes from the state is funded by a portion of snowmobile registration sales which continue to see a decline. I’m very pleased with my deputies’ productivity and our ability to do more with less. Some of our neighboring counties get three and four times the amount of funding from the state for snowmobile patrol and don’t log anywhere near the contacts our department does, it’s a sign that Schoolcraft County is busy and we are needed.” Sheriff Harris went on to thank the County Board for continuing to see the value of the program, “I’m very pleased they continue to support us, without them we couldn’t be out there assisting the snowmobiling public.”

Snowmobile Activity Report:
Patrol Hours: 258
Court Hours: 12.5
Contacts: 4403
Arrests: 5
Citations: 64
Verbal Warnings: 28
Complaints: 1
Search and Rescue 3
Accidents: 5
Fatal Accidents: 0
Snowmobile Safety
Classes Held: 1
Snowmobile Events
Attended: 2
Citations issued and corresponding offences:
No Trail Permit: 20
Unregistered
Snowmobile: 14
Fail to Exhibit


















Registration: 6
Improper Display Trail
Permit: 6
Improper Display
Registration: 12
Careless Operation: 1
Suspended Operation: 2*
Reckless Operation
/Flee Elude: 1*
Assault on Police Officer
/ Flee Elude: 1*
Fail to Stop for Police
/ Refuse PBT: 1*
*Indicates Arrest Citation












“The easiest thing that operators can do is obtain both a trail permit and registration and place them in the proper places, it’s really very simple,” says Undersheriff Bob Madden, “if a snowmobile is properly registered and permitted the interaction between deputies and the snowmobile operator is a matter of seconds, for the deputy to see both the registration and permit. It really is that simple. It’s frustrating to encounter continued violations when they are so easy to avoid.”

Fees collected from Michigan snowmobile trail permit fees as well as Michigan snowmobile registrations are redistributed to local trail grooming, trail maintenance, and law enforcement grants. In addition to providing law enforcement services the snowmobile patrol attends and assists at snowmobile events such as the Long Riders Relic Run and the Seney Veterans Ride. They are also responsible for responding to all search and rescue incidents involving snowmobiles and will transport emergency medical services to and from accident victims.

Still with all the activity, safety remains the primary focus of the program. Deputies have responded to several personal injury accidents which have been a result of speed and inexperience.

“The program is a positive one,” said Harris. “We get a lot of feedback from riders who are happy to see us out there dealing with the excessive speed and unsafe riders. I want to continue to see people come from all over and enjoy riding here, but I want to see people enjoying it safely.”

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