Arrests rise on Muskegon River, including sex incident

NEWAYGO COUNTY, Mich. (WZZM) - A new effort to crack down on illegal activity along the Muskegon River seems to be paying off. The number of arrests in Newaygo County are on pace to double from last year, after a multi-agency task force was assigned to patrol the river.

Terry Knepper is hoping for a G-rated ride tubing down the Muskegon River. She hopes for nothing like what happened on the river two weekends ago.

"I have 11- and 13-year-old kids, and if they saw that, that could ruin the trip," says Knepper who's visiting from Cleveland.

"Two people were engaged in a sex act while they were traveling down the river. Part of that group had some kids in it," says Lt. Chad Palmiter with the Newaygo County Sheriff's Department.

DNR officers arrested the man and woman, which brings the total arrests this summer to 52. It's already more than the 47 arrests for all of last year.

"This year we decided to ramp up some of those patrols,"says Lt. Palmiter.

It's part of a marine task force of state and local agencies increasing patrols on the water.

"We are getting a lot of positive feedback from people on the river, because of the issues that have taken place in the past," says conservation officer Michael Wells with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

"Minors in possession of alcohol. We've had several trespassing arrests," says Lt. Palmiter.

The rules for the river are listed in plain sight, but some tubers say they're still not sure what they're allowed to do. One woman was asking if alcohol is allowed in the water, because a sign clearly shows that it's banned from the park.

Officers Wells told her that alcohol in the river is allowed, because it's not considered part of the park.

"It's alright to have a drink on the river and enjoy the day," the woman told WZZM 13.

"Sometimes it can be a little too much, where people are afraid to even come and have fun," says Tiphani Moyer, a Newaygo resident.

However, officers want to stop the illegal behavior, in some cases inappropriate affection, from scaring off families.

The increased patrols run through Labor Day. They're expected to continue for several years, until the problems on the Muskegon River are under control.


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