(07/26/10) - Law enforcement is sending out a message today in advance of Back to the Bricks, which kicks off three weeks from today.
In just a few short years, the annual classic car show has grown from a one-day event to one of the top 50 of its kind in the United States.
This year's event officially kicks off in just three weeks.
Participants and spectators of can expect to see an increased presence of another type of vehicle along the cruise route - police cars.
Last year, Back to the Bricks attracted 25,000 vehicles and 250,000 men, women and children. Those numbers are expected to increase this year, making public safety a top priority.
"Chief concern of public safety, not only for the spectators, but for the drivers alike because all it would take is just one incident and it could put the whole event in jeopardy," organizer Al Hatch said.
It is for that precise reason that Back to the Bricks is turning to local law enforcement. This year, for the first time, nine local agencies, including the state police, sheriff's department and University of Michigan-Flint Public Safety will join forces and share resources the week of Back to the Bricks.
"We are joining forces to enact a zero-tolerance policy for all illegal activities that have the potential to endanger both spectators and participants; tire burnouts, over consumption of alcohol and reckless and careless driving," Michigan State Police Lt. Tom Osterholzer said.
Police say while offenders may have received warnings in the past, tickets will be issued, vehicles will be towed and some may end up spending the night in the Genesee County jail. "We don't want to see that as the Back to the Bricks community, and I know the police force doesn't want to see that," Hatch said.
"By working together with all the law enforcement agencies, we can move our resources to where they're needed at any given moment, and provide safety to everybody in the community," Grand Blanc Police Chief Steve Soloman explained.
Genesee County Community Mental Health is also playing a major role in this Back to the Bricks effort.
"We will ticket and we will tow your vehicles if you're not acting responsibly," promised Flint Police Chief Alvern Lock.
The multi-jurisdictional team of officers will be out in force for all five days of Back to the Bricks.
"We've issued warnings in the past. We will be issuing citations. The worst offenders will be removed from the event and they will be lodged in the Genesee County jail," Burton Police Lt. Tom Osterholzer said.
"Public Safety has to be the number-one concern of every large event of this case," emphasized Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau head Jerry Preston.
For Back to the Bricks, that includes alcohol enforcement, which will come in the form of support from an unlikely source - funding for stepped-up patrols from Genesee County Community Mental Health.
"Unfortunately, there will be that small percentage of people that are going to act up. They're gonna not drink responsibly, they're going to do things that put other people's lives in danger. Therefore, the CMH task force, our crew, is extra officers looking primarily for that single person that is acting up, that is drunk, disorderly," Flint Township Police Lt. Tim Jones said. "If they gotta go to jail, they go to jail. If they get a ticket, they gonna get a ticket.
But we will not tolerate somebody else, that small percentage, that's gonna spoil a great event for this county."
"We want to keep is safe for everybody and make it a family oriented, and want everybody to come back year after year," Hatch said.
Back to the Bricks begins Tuesday, August 16 and runs through Saturday, August 21.
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