Lansing Mayor Unveils "School Watch" Program

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

More must be done to keep kids safe at school-- that's from Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, who is launching a new campaign to get the community involved in school safety. It's called School Watch, and it's modeled after the neighborhood watch programs.

It's going to be a collaborative effort between the school, the community and police.

It was just four months ago, blocks from Sexton high school, where shots were fired.

While that investigation continues, the mayor is out with a new plan to improve school safety.

"It isn't an enforcement program, it is an extra set of eyes and ears that will help the relationship between the school district, the police department and the neighborhoods to help deter crime, and to identify maybe some problem areas," said Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowshki.

Community volunteers will be posted at Lansing's high schools and middle schools, from 7-9 a.m., and again from 2 to 4p.m.

"The community has to help the police department," said Chief Yankowski. "The police department alone can not be everywhere we want to be. This will allow our citizens to play an active role in keeping their community safe."

The volunteers won't enforce the law. They are there to support students, and if need be contact police.

The all volunteer program will cost between $20,000 and $25,000 each year to operate. That money will pay for three leased vehicles, vehicle decals, vests clothing, hats, cell phones and radios.

"We had one incident near the school last year, let's not have another one," said Lansing School Board President Peter Spadafore. "This is one more step to help our students feel safe, our neighborhoods feel safe and really bring the city and the district together."

Police hope dozens of people will come forward, even if you can only volunteer for a small amount of time. All the volunteers will be screened and trained.

"Any time you can build those rapports with our students--not only in the schools but outside of the schools, will help our youth open up to school officials, open up to law enforcement, so when there is a crime they'd be more willing to come forth and provide information," said Yankowski.


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