Neighbors Encouraged By LPD Policing Changes

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Lansing police officers will be working shorter shifts, and that should have more of them on the streets during the busiest parts of the day.

It's the biggest change in a restructuring plan the Lansing Police Department announced Friday.

The initiative includes switching officers from 12 to 10 hour days starting a week from Saturday, while also increasing the maximum number of officers working at one time from 15 to 25.

LPD also plans to divide the city into four sectors, with officers assigned to patrol a specific part of the city, while also adding four more community policing officers to nip problems in the bud before they become serious issues.

"When citizens call us and 9-1-1 for police services we are going to be there and we're going to be there in a timely manner," Chief Mike Yankowski said during a press conference Friday afternoon.

"But we also have to have our proactive approach to identifying and addressing those crime issues in our neighborhoods, in a timely accurate manner."

The proactive approach along with the increase in community policing officers is sitting well with neighborhood groups.

"I have faith with LPD," said Cleveland "Chance" Boyd, who captains a watch program on Lansing's west side started after the area dealt with several break-ins and other crimes.

"We started this neighborhood watch progressively about six years ago," Boyd said. "We said enough is enough and we decided that we were going to reclaim our neighborhood."

The break-ins in Boyd's neighborhood are way down since the group formed, with just one this year. And while his neighborhood, like many, still has its challenges, the new policing initiative will help keep the momentum going, he said.

"What they've demonstrated with us in this area for the last couple years and I strongly support them," Boyd said.

Similar sentiments in the Genesee neighborhood where three Sexton high school students were shot this past September.

"Nothing like that had ever happened here before, and has not happened since," said Jackie Payne, who heads up the Westside Neighborhood Association's crime and safety committee.

"I certainly feel this is a good plan, a wise plan."

Payne said having officers working shorter shifts and putting more of them instead out on the streets during peak hours for crime is the right approach to keep neighborhoods safe.

"People who commit crimes don't work on a regular predictable schedule," she said. "If [the police] can allocate their resources to the areas where they know from experience are problem areas that's going to be a more effective use of their resources, I think it's a fantastic idea."

Meanwhile, in the Moores Park Neighborhood where a string of break-ins last fall left people living in fear, the director of the watch program says he's on board with the new initiative.

"Having more officers in the neighborhoods and on the streets is definitely a good thing," Andrew Eagle said over the phone Friday. "It's about being proactive instead of just reacting after crime occurs."

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