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East Lansing city manager proposes police realignment proposal

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 4:35 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Major changes could be on the way for the East Lansing Police Department because of a new police realignment proposal the city manager will introduce.

City Manager George Lahanas will introduce the plan to the city council Tuesday after he said they asked him about his vision for the future of policing.

Lahanas said protests and national unrest over police brutality across the nation have played a role in his thought process.

"Obviously the national conversation on race and the roll of policing has been a driver," said Lahanas. "City council has expressed a different vision for police that doesn't focus as much on enforcement. We've taken that to heart and that's a part of our plan to create a department again that focuses more on community problem solving and less on enforcement and arrests."

His plan is to swap some vacant sworn officer police positions within East Lansing Police Department with civilian positions.

“Civilian staff, social work staff, people who are there to solve problems, to solve disputes, provide information, and are not necessarily police officers,” said Lahanas.

The city council will have their say Tuesday when they look at the presentation for the first time.

Lahanas said he’s just looking for a nod of approval to get started. Since there would be no proposed changes to the city budget, he doesn’t technically have to get approval.

“East Lansing has for the past few months been coming to terms with deep problems in our city as well as nationally with policing,” council member Lisa Babcock said. “Part of the problem is we ask police officers to do things that they are not trained to do and in their training don’t anticipate. So we are not disbanding the police department, but we are re-thinking how we use resources and whether some circumstances would be better served with a non-police response. This should take some of the pressure off our police officers and also have much better results for the citizenry.”

Lahanas said once he has the go-ahead, the timeline would just be a matter of posting positions and going through the hiring process.

East Lansing Police Interim Chief Steve Gonzalez has collaborated on the realignment plan with the city manager and said he fully supports the plan.

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