Special Report: Crime Corridor

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Drive down Waverly Rd. and you'll see some businesses, homes, apartments and quite a bit of traffic.

You might also find police cars and, occasionally, caution tape.

"It seems like it's becoming a kind of common thing over here," says Kathleen Gomez, who lives in the area.

Crime along this part of Waverly, near Jolly Rd., has historically been a problem.

"This is definitely one of the ares in the city of Lansing where we try to put a few extra resources," says Capt. Mike Yankowski of the Lansing Police Department.

LPD and the Eaton Co. Sheriff's Office both patrol the area.

"Everything to the east of Waverly is City of Lansing, everything to the west of Waverly is Eaton County, but as we go north and west of Waverly it kind of jags back and forth," Yankowski explains.

LPD has records of more than 170 what's called "Type A" incidents here so far this year. Yankowski describes those as shootings, assaults, thefts and burglaries. He says he would call the area a hot spot.

Why are problems happening here?

"We see a lot of turnover," Yankowski says. "We have a lot of apartment complexes down here. We see this as one of the main streets that can get you from point A to point B."

He says gangs aren't a problem, but there are "squads or factions of smaller numbers that associate, associates of other people, that break into homes, that deal drugs."

"We get a little bit of everything," echoes Deputy Jon VanCore of the Eaton Co. Sheriff's Office. "We do a lot of traffic enforcement down here."

In the Waverly/Jolly area so far this year, Eaton Co., which patrols the businesses, made 120 traffic stops and responded to three armed robberies and 14 assaults.

When we took a closer look at the numbers, we found crime in the area is getting better, though it's far from perfect.

Yankowski says LPD has seen a 12-14 percent decrease in robberies in 2012, but acknowledges there are still spikes of crime in the area.

"Some of those spikes in crimes that we've seen in 2012 have been larcenies," he says. "Occasionally we have what we call motor vehicle thefts that have been on the increase in this area."

"The thing that really helps us with that is when somebody calls in something that doesn't look right to them," says VanCore. "When we drive through your neighborhood, we don't know what belongs and what doesn't."

The Family Connections club, which operated out of the back of the Family Dollar, didn't belong. Law enforcement told me it caused problems and drew a lot of resources. Eaton Co. shut it down in June 2011 and says that's helped reduce the crime and violence.

"I think that things have gotten quite a bit better down here," VanCore says.

People who live in the area agree.

"I think it kind of died down lately," says Willie Mitchell. "I think the police are patrolling a little more in the area. I think that's probably a big reason."

Gomez says she sees police in the area all the time.

"Lots of cops," she says. "A lot of cops sitting at the Family Dollar, in the parking lot. At quickies down there."

"We're down here most of the time," VanCore explains. "We're down here doing traffic enforcement, watching the parking lots of the businesses that are down here, looking for people who are loitering."

Yankowski says Eaton Co. deputized about 35 Lansing police officers so they have the authority to act on Eaton County's turf. They've put up surveillance cameras and added a community policing officer in the area.

"We've also increased our patrols for curfew violations," he says. "In addition to that we heavily heavily rely on neighborhood watch."

Sam Horton, who's a part of the Churchill Downs Community Association, says crime in the area has gone down quite a big, especially since Family Connections was shut down in 2011. He says they have some minor crimes occasionally, but serious crimes are at a minimum thanks to the partnership between the community association, police departments and the business community.

In terms of crime, the Waverly corridor is on par for other parts of Lansing, for example, Martin Luther King Ave. In fact, LPD has had more calls for shots fired on MLK and about four times as many robberies there, so far this year.

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