"We've got the opportunity now to dedicate some more resources specifically to this area."
Meet Rich Ballor: Lansing's newest community police officer.
"The East Kalamazoo Corridor has been assigned a new community police officer," the Lansing native said Wednesday. "And I am that officer."
Ballor was introduced Wednesday to much applause from East Side community members, and then joined Mayor Virg Bernero and Police Chief Mark Alley for an inaugural walk down Kalamazoo.
With that, Ballor became the seventh member of a growing unit within LPD -- one that pulls officers away from dispatch calls to free up more time for community involvement.
"A community policing officer will also take those calls," Alley said. "But they can also can take themselves out of that mix to work on these chronic and ongoing problems. And that's the main difference."
And that role is funded by the federal government. Stimulus dollars will be footing Ballor's employment, and he says few neighborhoods in the city need it more than the East Side's Kalamazoo Corridor.
"The issues along the Corridor here include quality-of-life problems, prostitution, drugs; and they're issues that sometimes a regular uniformed officer can't dedicate enough time to," Ballor said.
But residents here say there's much to love about the East Side. The question, of course, is how effective a community officer will be in snuffing out the problems. LPD now has seven of them with Ballor and says it will soon announce another.
"There's no doubt that community policing works," Alley said. "We know that not only from our experience here in Lansing, but if you look at data across the country -- it's a concept that is well-founded."
Something community members here are pleased to hear.
"The ongoing challenges are best-addressed by someone who knows the neighborhood, knows all the players," said Joan Nelson, president of the East Side's Allen Neighborhood Center.
Someone like Rich Ballor.