Lansing Mayor, Police Chief Focus On Reducing Gun Violence

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In light of the recent shootings, and as concern grows in many neighborhoods, News 10 asked the mayor and new chief of police about safety in Lansing right now.

"We are a safe community, we are as safe as we ever were," Mayor Virg Bernero said.

But many people living in the capitol city might disagree right now, like Tiaria Ovalle who grew up in Lansing.

"It's like way worse than it used to be," Ovalle said. "It used to be calm, relaxed, you could leave your door open, neighbors knew each other. Now, it's like terrible."

Ovalle lives a few feet away from where a 19-year-old driver was shot and crashed his SUV on Holmes Street Monday afternoon. She thinks the other guys involved -- who are still on the loose -- may have fled through her backyard.

"It makes me scared, and it makes me scared for my son and husband as well," Ovalle said.

It's just one of three shootings in the last three days and several others last month, like the one near Sexton High School. The new chief of police says we might be seeing a spike recently, but he plans to get on top of it

"We're going to try and get ahead of those crime sprees and hold those accountable by using data," Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski said.

LPD has two people dedicated to analyzing data and finding the most violent hot spots. They've also started tracking shootings differently this year in a more specific way to find the root of the issue.

"It's not going to be tolerated," Chief Yankowski said. "We're coming after you, and we will not rest until we put you behind bars."

He said most of the crimes are drug related out of retaliation or youth using guns to solve problems. Police said help from the community is vital to solving and preventing crimes.

"You have to be there to help the police department solve these crimes," Chief Yankowski said. "We don't have a police officer on every street corner."

But the mayor is making sure public safety remains a top priority as well.

"Nobody wants to invest in an unsafe community," Mayor Bernero said.

Even on the first day as the official chief of police, everyone seems to be on the same page.

"We're going to continue to move forward and keep this city safe," Chief Yankowski said.

LPD said they're working on some programs and efforts to reduce youth violence. There aren't many details at this time, but police hope for more involvement in the school and in neighborhoods to reach youth.

They're also considering some smart policing software. It would actually use data to predict where and when a crime is going to happen. It's all part of the chief's focus on a "proactive instead of reactive" police force.

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