Lansing Police gearing up for body cameras, gang resistance programs

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – The Lansing Police Department is coming off a good year.

In 2015 there were fewer shootings and homicides.

It brought back the “Citizen Police Academy” and landed LPD’s first cold case conviction after designating a detective to solely investigate those cases.

So what’s in store for 2016?

Body cameras. It’s the wave of the future for law enforcement across the country.

And next month Lansing police plan to outfit all of their road patrols with them.

They have 120 cameras coming.

Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski explains “It’s going to validate the work our police officers and it’s also going to hold, not only our police officers accountable, but also our citizens and community accountable for their actions.”

And Chief Yankowski says body cameras will be great for “evidence gathering”, to help the criminal justice system as well.

That’s just one of the projects on the LPD’s plate.

Similar to last year community engagement will be a big focus.

Things like public forums and connecting with our kids.

“We have now trained eight of our police officers that go into middle schools and we focus right now, on 4th and 6th graders and we sent them the message of making GREAT choices,” says the chief.

That “GREAT” program stands for “Gang Resistance in Education And Training.”

The department is also planning to target kids interested in becoming police officers or fire fighters through summer camps.

Chief Yankowski says hiring has been a priority for the department for the past three years.

And this year, they’re hoping to fill all of their retirement gaps.

But it’s been a slow process.

“It’s not just a Lansing Police Department issue,” says Chief Yankowski. “It’s a national crisis. When we start look at hiring police officers that are qualified, when we try and hire diversity for our community it really has been a struggle over the last two years and we anticipate it being a struggle as we move ahead a little bit in 2016 and 2017.”

And in situations where there’s a mentally ill individual this year a “crisis intervention team” won’t be far behind.

“You train officers specifically to be the team leader in a situation where someone is going through a mental health crisis.”

Education, training, togetherness are the focus as the LPD moves forward.

“It all comes down to the foundation between the community and the police. The police and the community. Working together to keep our city safe,” reminds Chief Yankowski.

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