Downtown Lansing Gets New Community Police Officer

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"People feel very secure when they see a man in uniform. He has a vested interest in this area, and I think it will be great for this whole community."

-Vernon Richard, Juice Nation owner

Many Lansing residents called for more cops on the streets after multiple shootings recently, and now that's what they're getting.

The Lansing Police Department listened and has committed a community police officer to the heart of downtown. It's a position that has the officer out-and-about on foot, going into businesses, meeting the public, and having a lot of personal interactions.

Monday was Officer Matthew Salmon's first day on his new assignment, but he's not new to the department or the area. Officer Salmon -- or as he's known throughout the community, Officer Fish -- has been with LPD for 11 years.

"I actually started my career here with the Lansing Police Department as a cadet, and attended college downtown at LCC," Salmon said.

The 32-year-old requested this special assignment, and got it after the previous cop retired from the position. Now he's being shown the ropes by Officer Robert Merritt, who knows a thing or two about the post as well.

"I was the community police officer for three years, and it was one of the best assignments I've ever had downtown here," Merritt said. "It's the old perverbial beat, foot beat. The officer's going to be out of his car, walking and talking with all the community, as well as all the businesses down here, and just basically giving a police presence."

Merritt calls the position vital, and Mayor Virg Bernero agrees. The mayor said this is what the city needs right now, and they play an important role in reducing crime.

"It makes a big difference when you build trusting relationships," Mayor Bernero said. "They're likley to share things with you, you might not otherwise know, that will prevent crimes."

It's already giving people in the area and business owners hope.

"People feel very secure when they see a man in uniform," Juice Nation owner Vernon Richard said. "He has a vested interest in this area, and I think it will be great for this whole community."

Officer Salmon is ready to hit the ground running, no matter how crazy the schedule is. He'll be downtown during the day, but also often at night making sure people are safe when the bars close. You'll also find him during all the major events held in downtown.

"Making sure downtown runs as strongly and as vibrantly as possible," Salmon said.

The community police officer assignment lasts for three years. There are currently about five others positioned in different Lansing neighborhoods. The mayor said he would love to add more though.

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