Chief Green talks systemic racism, protests and the LPD
A face mask is now part of Lansing Police Chief Daryl Green’s uniform.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the first big challenge of Green’s first year in charge. Protests over the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, the second.
“What happened in Minneapolis was horrific,” Green said. He said that in his 23 years at the LPD, he was never trained to use that choking maneuver.
What happened in Lansing May 31 tested Green’s judgment, when a day of peaceful George Floyd protests turned violent.
“We had a tactic,” Green said. “We wanted to not escalate the protest.”
But it did escalate into a riot. Windows smashed, cars set on fire. Only then did Green order police to use tear gas.
“We made some decisions that were difficult,” Green said. “I certainly made those decisions. Ultimately I’m responsible for the decisions.”
Green is now facing the tough decision of how to protect the capital city with growing calls to defund and reform his department.
“When you talk about defunding the police department, my entire career here I can make the argument we’ve always been defunded, that we’ve always had limited resources,” Green said.
Green said his current, $45 million budget is tight, with more than a third of it going to retirement costs.
The other number that concerns him: cops on the force. Currently 203, Green claims cities of comparable size have 250 or more.
“Right now, the current environment for policing is difficult,” Green said. “It’s hampering recruiting.”
Green said it’s tough to sell someone on being a cop when high profile headlines shine a bright light on the bad ones.
"What happened in Minneapolis happened in Minneapolis, but it impacts the perception of police everywhere,” Green said. “Whatever department has issues, it has an effect on us."
Green doesn’t believe there’s a problem with systemic racism in his department, but as a black father who wears a badge, he gave his two sons “the speech” about surviving a police encounter.
"I tell them what the Lansing P.D. does, but I can't speak for the other 18,000 P.D.s, so I have to give them the speech of being professional, being courteous, not getting into debates with police officers,” Green said.
When it comes to the police officers he leads, Green is their biggest cheerleader.
“Are we perfect,” Green asked. “Do we still need to do work? Yes, we still need to do work. No, we are not perfect, but we’re trying to get better and the city of Lansing is very lucky.”