It's been a year since Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski announced the department's participation in a Violent Crime Initiative.
Undercover and uniformed officers with LPD and nearby agencies have worked together to target "hot spots" where violent crime is a problem. Since January, Yankowski says violent crimes in the city are down 21% and homicides were down 87% from January until the first homicide in May.
Chief Yankowski said, "The more we can team up and partner up and collaborate with our resources, the more effective we are going to be. This all comes down to keeping that criminal element to a minimum, utilizing the resources that we have, and being as effective and efficient with those resources that we have."
People who live in the Churchill Downs neighborhood near Jolly and Waverly say they've noticed a difference. They've seen more patrol cars, and faster police response times. Nekeyta Brunson has lived in the area for 7 years. She's recently become involved with the city's Neighborhood Watch program. "We have noticed quick response to any situation that has happened."
Neighbor Jeanne Fangboner has lived in Churchill Downs for 32 years. She's seen an improvement in the relationship between people living in the city and it's police force. "There has been a significant change. We had some young people having some problems within the last couple of years, and our neighbors, we saw a good initiative to try to help that change."
Chief Yankowski says pooling resources with nearby departments allows his officers to make a bigger impact on the Greater Lansing community. "We're extremely pleased with the results. Some of the cases that we've been able to solve in a quick time frame has been very very impressive."
The Chief points to a recent conviction for a man involved in the brutal beatings of two women during a robbery at a Jet's Pizza Store as one of the initiative's success stories. He says the VCI also played a role in quickly disarming a double murder suspect last month in East Lansing. "Within 10 minutes you had the violent crime components working together in multiple jurisdictions."
The Chief believes targeting those who live a criminal lifestyle is a key to keeping neighborhoods safe. "The homicides that we believe we have the most affect on is those that are involved with the criminal lifestyle, meaning drugs. If you're out carrying guns and committing robberies and breaking into homes with weapons, those are the ones that we believe we can really have a positive influence on."
Brunson says she feels safer in her neighborhood. "Its definitely having some impact. People knowing that the police are going to get them if they try to do anything."
Lansing's Chief says this spring, the Violent Crime Initiative brought agencies together to carry out 4 operations resulting in 63 arrests.