Gun Violence Prevention

We know poverty and inequity cause violent crime; add to that pandemic isolation, kids not in school, community anxiety, and the current political environment, and we end up with a toxic stew within City Hall that is spreading across the city.

 

If we value public safety, and we believe reducing crime increases public safety, the logical solution is strategically investing in programs--asset building, financial counseling, affordable housing, employment training, youth development, etc.--that reduce social and economic inequity, particularly in historically excluded communities.

 

We need to get to a place in Lansing where everyone feels safe interacting with police. That will never be the case for many within our community who witness police brutality and deaths in our jail with no repercussions or justice.  

 

In addition to the Advance Peace initiative, we should also explore hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs) that provide shooting victims, friends, and families with immediate trauma counseling and community resources to discourage retaliatory gun violence. 

We have a crisis of gun violence.   There is no need to wait for further loss of life before we act.  We’ve already lost **16** lives this year to violent crime.  It may not be a mass shooting, but it has had a massive impact on these families and our entire community.  

 

Existing Systemic Problems

I see no sense of urgency from this administration to implement strategies to curb these crimes.  And now the Chief of Police is leaving for another job, after what may be the shortest tenure of any chief in LPD history!  


For three months we believed Anthony Hulon’s death was a medical incident. The coroner ruled his death a homicide- from positional asphyxia.  AG Dana Nessel’s investigation ruled that the officers in the city jail followed procedure and that no charges would be filed. If a man died in our custody while police were “following procedure”, then we need to change the damn procedure/policy.  

Regardless of circumstances, a man died while in the custody of the City of Lansing. To my knowledge, neither the current Mayor nor anyone from the City EVER spoke to the family to offer condolences until AFTER a wrongful death lawsuit was filed.

In yet another grotesque example of misconduct by members of our LPD, when a man armed with an axe and a gun attacked a local family, including their three year old child, Officers on the scene confiscated the phones of the victims and then failed to call an ambulance for the severely wounded, leaving these victims to drive themselves to the hospital. 

 

We have cops telling mothers of children who have been murdered that investigators are not interested in solving those crimes and that the general consensus is: "We’re gonna let these kids weed themselves out."
 

Better Hiring & Training Practices

We need to screen candidates better, train officers regularly, instill a culture of respect to ensure officers behave appropriately, and end qualified immunity so we can hold bad actors accountable. 

 

I am a numbers person who analyzes investment vs return, and I plan to direct funding where it is most likely to achieve its intended purpose. What is the ideal purpose of policing? To promote public safety. Lansing has seen 16 gun-related homicides in the first half of 2021. Has increasing the police budget made us safer? No. Still Mayor Schor’s answer is always to add more police.
 

Now the mayor wants to add 5 more police officers when we can’t fill the 9 funded and vacant positions we already have.  His plan will encumber hundreds of thousands of dollars to sit unused, instead of investing in solutions that are proven to reduce crime. Why is he doing this? 

Because it’s an election year.  This is a performative stunt.  Gun violence in Lansing isn’t new. If the current Mayor truly thought more cops were the solution, he would have already filled these positions.   

How often do we regularly see a heavy police presence patrolling middle class suburban neighborhoods? Not often.  So to argue that it is a police presence that prevents crime is false and disingenuous.  Financial and social stability are two of the key factors that help to prevent crime.   

It is for these reasons and many more that I support the George Floyd Act and The Lansing Breathe Act. 

 

Listening and Learning

We need to focus our efforts on activities that are proven to achieve public safety for all. Young people are shooting each other, families are being ripped apart, crime has gone up steadily for the past two years and we continue to do things the same way yet expect different results, that is insanity.  I see no sense of urgency from this current administration, other than to create another “task force”.


The current mayor does not respond well to criticism or dissent. One of the 8 people suing the Mayor for racial discrimination made the suggestion, as a City employee, that the city offer a more diverse playlist of music in downtown Lansing to foster inclusion and also pointed out racially insensitive and inappropriate language being used by co-workers at City Hall. This was an opportunity for our current Mayor to learn and do better.  Instead, the employee was accused of insubordination, of not being “a team player”  and was subsequently fired from her position.

 

Mayor Schor has been recorded stating that he believes there is racism within the Lansing Fire Department, but downplays it publicly.  Whenever he is faced with accusations and evidence of discriminatory behavior both personally and professionally, his reaction is to create a committee, an alliance, or a task force, and then do nothing to alleviate the problems.