Targeting Crime Hotspots

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You might remember the story of Aseel Machi. She's the 15-year-old Lansing girl whose family endured life in a crime-filled neighborhood.

"We just kind of kept to ourselves ... We tried to," Machi recalled in an interview Tuesday.

Trying not to start any trouble, she says, only to see their home burn.

The family believes it's connected to Aseel Machi's testimony against a neighbor in court. The family now has a home in another part of Lansing they say is much safer.

"We get to run around and play in our yard ... We don't have to worry about other people," Machi said.

A starkly different scene than the old neighborhood, near Walsh Park.

"There's not people running around trying to get in fights. There isn't people standing on the corner. We don't have drunks walking up and down the sidewalk all the time," she said.

Commanders at Lansing's South Precinct police station say there are steps police can take to prevent that kind of crime.

"Bringing in a number of patrol cars, saturating the area, sending in undercover officers to make drug purchases," Lt. Steve Mitchell, the precinct's afternoon shift commander, said.

All techniques Mitchell says are effective in connection with what he calls a zero-tolerance attitude toward crime.

"If anybody is doing anything illegal, they're not getting a warning. They're going to be cited or going to jail," he said.

This year's report shows Lansing police are trying to do all that despite the city's tight budget.

"We're pretty much stretched as thin as we can be," Mitchell said.

As thin as it says it's stretched, the department is planning to take officers away from desks and onto the streets. It's something the department hopes will stabilize neighborhoods across the city.

"There wasn't any safety over here [near Walsh Park], but over there, you can sleep," Machi said.

Something so basic. Something Aseel Machi won't be taking for granted.