LANSING -- Summer Place Townhomes on Waverly Road in Lansing is home to dozens of refugee families.
"It's part of the milieu," says Mayor Virg Bernero. "It's part of the beautiful diversity and rich culture that Lansing is."
But not everyone has been so welcoming. Reports have surfaced of bullying of some of the refugees on school buses and just outside the Summer Place grounds.
"There is a group of young teenagers that have been harrassing some of the neighbors, and they've been able to get by with that," says Joan Jackson Johnson, director of the city's department of human relations and community services.
She, the mayor and a number of other city officials are upping the ante, launching a new initiative to tamp down on the bullying.
"We're working with the Refugee Development Center; with the school district; the police department; the faith community -- to really wrap our arms around and really preventing any problems that could come up," Bernero says.
They plan to place interpreters, provide more English-as-a-second-language training and establish greater police presence in that neighborhood.
"If there are problems with somebody bullying or taking it to a different level in a negative sense, they need to know that that's not going to be tolerated," Jackson Johnson says.
The mayor also plans to work with refugee community leaders to help establish neighborhood watch groups within refugee communities.
"Neighborhood watch, we know, is so vital to preventing crime and being proactive," he says. "Well, you need to know how neighborhood watch works."
He says he wants to help those communities better interface with LPD to report crimes and other incidents.
They're hoping to release a comprehensive plan within two weeks.