Lansing Police Prepare For Cuts

By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
By: Meaghan M. Norman Email
Can Lansing survive the cuts to public safety?  Looking at police department numbers statewide, the city currently has more uniformed officers than most larger cities.

police car graphic

Some may question how the city can absorb such drastic cuts, laying off 57 police officers and 47 firefighters. According to Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, there's no doubt the need is there:

"Police and fire protection and maintenance of our roads are paramount. Yet, these are services most at risk in the year ahead because we literally have nowhere else to turn."

News Ten looked at other cities in Michigan, compared to Lansing to see how they fare with the number of uniformed police officers per thousand people. Grand Rapids, the second largest police department in the state has 1.6 officers. Flint, with a population close to Lansing's has 1.3 officers, Ann Arbor has 1.4 and Macomb County's Sterling Heights has 1.2. As it stands now, Lansing has 1.8 officers per thousand people. When you factor in the proposed 57 cuts, that number drops down to 1.4. So, the reality of the data is, right now, the department is operating with more than larger cities.*

Sources we talked to say there are a lot of variables to take into account when you look into which officers you cut and which you keep. There's call volume, crime rate, response time, coverage area. And something that makes Lansing unique is that the city's population swells Monday through Friday because of the state government jobs.

Lansing Police Chief Teresa Szymanski says while Lansing could deal with the cuts, the community-oriented focus, would be gone.

"We would lose officers in uniform patrol, we would lose detectives assigned to the investigations bureau, we stand to lose our motorcycle unit, which is our traffic unit, community police officers, neighborhood watch officers, school resource officers and narcotics investigations," said Chief Szymanski. "If I have to decide whether to send a police officer on a 9-1-1 call or have an officer to stay in the schools, I have to choose to have the officer answer the 9-1-1 calls. They are very difficult choices."

Mayor Bernero has urged the city to consider passing the 4-mill property tax increase to save public safety and reinstate at least half of the staff that would be cut.

"We've already made all the easy cuts and many of the hard ones, " said Mayor Bernero. "But the hardest of all will happen in this budget if the millage is not approved and we lose fully half of our state shared revenue."

These are tough cuts that the citizens of Lansing need to decide if they can live without.

*The data is derived from the current number of uniformed officers, out of the total population, multiplied by 1,000. Initial reports from Lansing, indicated the number of uniformed officers was 250. That number is actually 219. That changed our data and our initial reports to 1.4 (with cuts) from 1.8.

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  • by Sam Location: City of Lansing on May 11, 2011 at 07:57 PM
    Chief Teresa Szymanski sham on you... To say you will have to decide if your officers will go on a 911 call or stay in schools you have know idea what your officers do... Get involved in your department and stop trying to please Virg his is going to take you down with him. What are you going to say to the family when one of your officers get killed because they had no back up "Sorry the citizens of Lansing didn't pass the Millage" Is it worth it??? What if it was your family.
  • by Andrew Location: Lansing on Apr 7, 2011 at 05:27 PM
    Just another scare tactic to raise taxes.
  • by yukon on Mar 31, 2011 at 09:46 AM
    Wow, I didn't realize my two sentences said that much. I'm a fan of no one till they prove themselves. The gov (who you call dictator) makes a budget proposal, and somehow Virg has a financial problem? Come on, there were problems before the election and they were going to be passed on to the next administration if Virg had been elected. If you think Lansing's money and debt problems just showed up in January, you have no idea what is going on. My only point in my original post was that Virg hid this well while he was running. Nothing more.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 31, 2011 at 05:22 AM
    with all the cuts the upper governor wants to make.I wonder how many will get pay raises this year or next.Those raises just get put in place behind tax payers backs.Our schools will be so bad,when students graduate they will know nothing to compete in society.Other countries will & have passed us in education.Even now with many having college degree,they can't find a job.welcome to the USA.Not doing so well,are we?
  • by Bull Location: Lansing on Mar 31, 2011 at 04:04 AM
    "Police and fire protection and maintenance of our roads are paramount. Yet, these are services most at risk in the year ahead because we literally have nowhere else to turn." Turn to downsizing Management!
  • by Connie on Mar 30, 2011 at 07:16 PM
    I see. The dictator, I mean governor, cuts funds to EVERYTHING but corporate taxes, which he decreases. We've had 30 years of the federal government cutting funds to cities and states, and constant cuts to corporate taxes, but this is all Virg's fault. Good logic! I am no fan of Virg, but to blame him is to admit you have no clue what is actually going on.
  • by yukon Location: lansing on Mar 30, 2011 at 02:39 PM
    Looks like Virg kept a good secret while running for governor. No shocker we didn't hear of the financial problems till now.
  • by Anonymous on Mar 30, 2011 at 01:41 PM
    Chief Teresa Szymanski says she decides whether an officer answers a 911 call or be in a school? She doesn't SIT in the 911 call center and make the decisions. sounds like another VIRGIE puppet statement!
  • by Blake on Mar 30, 2011 at 01:32 PM
    While the population of Lansing does swell due to the state workers, that need not be a concern. The state employees aren't a big South side or West side gang, selling prostitution and drugs or doing drive by shootings! Pretty much law abiding citizens. The state buildings are secured by State police etc, NOT Lansing police. Being that the numbers come into line with Ann Arbor, grand Rapids and Flint, with the first mentioned having A large University and many other colleges, and being next to one LARGE drug corridor (94 Detroit to Jackson & Chicago) Ann Arbor does very well with the officers they have. Lansing needs to consider following the other city models for L.E. Also, if anyone thinks that all the money from a 4 Mill tax increase is going to go to Public Safety, then they need to rethink it! Maybe some of the ON DUTY officers shouldn't be at church services with their police car or banking or sitting on the side of the street talking to pretty ladies while on duty!
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