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Police presence expanded to keep Michigan’s winter holiday celebrations, events safe

‘To be a great event, it has got to be a safe event’
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:46 PM EST
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GRAND LEDGE, Mich. (WILX) - Communities in Mid-Michigan are preparing for holiday celebrations and working alongside police to keep residents safe.

Prosecutors in Wisconsin on Tuesday charged a man with intentional homicide in the deaths of six people who were killed when an SUV was driven into a Christmas parade that also left 62 people injured, including many children.

Read: ‘Glue me back together’ -- Online pleas to aid Waukesha parade victims

Grand Ledge city officials are preparing for its winter holiday season and making sure its residents and visitors stay safe.

“We kick it off with our tree lighting on December 3rd,” said Amy Hoyes, Grand Ledge Chamber of Commerce executive director. “We’re going to light the tree at about 6:45 p.m. and the parade will start at 7 p.m. from the fire station, all the way down Bridge Street.”

Grand Ledge’s 2021 Night Lights Christmas Parade will have city leaders light nearly 6,000 lights on the city Christmas Tree. Grand Ledge Police chief Tom Osterholzer thinks the turnout will be great.

“But to be a great event, it has got to be a safe event,” Osterholzer said. “What most people probably don’t realize is the planning for this started months ago.”

After the tragedy in Wisconsin, police departments across Mid-Michigan are reevaluating their holiday parade safety plans. Police in Grand Ledge said they’re confident in their safety plan.

“We’re going to have our bike officers out on bikes and they do a great job, even in the snow,” Osterholzer said. “We’re going to have marked officers units out in patrol cars and we’re also going to have our K-9 out. We’re going to have a large police presence.”

Osterholzer said police have learned from tragedies in the past on making events with large crowds more safe and secure.

“9/11 taught us to look at both hard and soft targets and we started looking at that from a law enforcement aspect,” Osterholzer said. “The Boston City Marathon bombing made us look at large crowds in a whole different way.”

He said he’s confident that police departments across Michigan will have strong safety plans.

“This isn’t just unique to Grand Ledge. Whether its Lansing, East Lansing, or smaller Grand Ledge, this kind of coordinated effort takes place at events all across Mid-Michigan and across our state,” Osterholzer concluded.

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