Lansing Police Chief: “Our focus is on community relations”

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – It’s a new year, a time for many to focus on the future.

But for the Lansing Police Department the future depends on learning from the past.

6 News anchor Chivon Kloepfer sat down with Lansing Police chief Mike Yankowski to see what went right last year and where “more work needs to be done.”

The chief began with a quote, “Sir Robert Peel said it best: ‘the police are the public, and the public are the police.’ And in 2015, our focus has been on community relations.”

And with good reason.

From Minnesota to Maryland to Michigan unrest has erupted across the country.

Much of it Americans turning on Americans following several deadly encounters with police.

Even locally Lansing is still dealing with the aftermath of a confrontation on Christmas Eve, that ended with officers discharging their weapons, and a suspect dead.

“You can’t be quick to pass judgement on these situations,” said Chief Yankowski. “Law enforcement have a very very difficult job. It’s a very challenging job. You know, we’re on the “front lines” of many social economic issues and it’s the police that get calls as the last line of defense.”

He adds, “Thousands of calls for service, the hundreds and hundreds of interactions that we have on a day to day bases, still at the end of the day, less than half a percent ends in a deadly encounter with law enforcement. And that the positives that an officer do each day, get overlooked in a lot of different ways.”

That’s why in 2015 Chief Yankowski was thrilled to bring back their Citizen Police Academy.

“They actually got put into ‘use of force’ situations,” explained Yankowski. “What was eye-popping for them was that the communication levels and how quick officers have to have decisions and how much training was involved in that.”

Chief Yankowski says the academy will help with continue to help community relations and adds the more civilians work together with law enforcement the safer Lansing streets will be.

And we’re getting there.

In 2015, for the first time in 3 years:

  • Lansing police officers responded to fewer than 160 reports of guns going off.
  • Homicides are also down, 10 percent.
  • Lansing police investigated 9 last year.
  • 7 have been solved and the chief says they’re working leads on the other 2.

And with the LPD’s designated “cold case” detective “we were able to establish out first cold case conviction. I’m very proud of the men and women in the Lansing Police Department did. We cannot accomplish what we accomplished without the communities help.”

The chief says if you look back 25 years you’ll see violent crime is down 34 percent and property crime has dropped 56 percent.

And for other crime statistics from 2015? Those go through the FBI and won’t be released until later this year.

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