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When nationwide protests against police brutality and racism reached Lansing, Michigan, last spring, John Edmond heard calls to slash the local police budget and found it a little extreme. His 7-year-old daughter was killed in a shooting that helped spur the creation of a special police unit targeting violent crime. That argument gained power as a surge in gun violence drove homicides to a year high in Lansing, the capital of Michigan.
After the death of George Floyd spawned a movement to curb police power in America, a rise in violent crime in many cities has served as a counterweight, making radical changes harder for some of the public — and some elected officials — to accept. In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed by police, the City Council proposed eliminating the police department in June.
While the council forced some cuts, by February, following a dramatic rise in violent crimeit agreed to hire more officers. Atlanta, where homicides hit a year highincreased its police budget last summer. In Lansing, a city of , Mayor Andy Schor has backed changes to police operations but opposes cuts to the police budget.
All violent crimes for the most part are up. I start sharing those statistics and our ability to focus on keeping citizens safe. I argue that we are underfunded by 50 or 60 officers. The protesters also aired grievances about local law enforcement. Black Lansing residents have complained that police disproportionately pulled them over for traffic stops. Studies commissioned by the police department have found no evidence of racial profiling.
But an analysis in July by the Lansing State Journal newspaper found Black people were nearly twice as likely to be stopped as white people. Protesters also recalled a incident in which an officer was caught on video punching a year-old Black girl while trying to arrest her for probation violations; the officer served a brief suspension and the girl pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. On May 31, the second day of Floyd Looking to change 43 lansing 43 in Lansing, police used pepper spray against protesters they said had turned destructive.
Activists said the move helped prove their point that police were too quick to use force and deserved a funding cut.
He later announced a series of initiatives that included an end to traffic stops for minor infractions and the creation of a diversity task force. Then, Lansing began to see a spike in shootings, part of a nationwide trend that peaked in the summer of but is continuing in many cities.
Green warned that budget cuts would force layoffs in his officer department. He pointed to a rise in crime that followed budget cuts in A majority of the council rejected the proposal to cut the police budget, saying they were concerned that having fewer officers would lead to more crime. The split in Lansing reflected a divide across Michiganand the United States, over police reform, and whether police budgets should be slashed. Instead of backing cuts to the police budget, the Lansing City Council in September proposed increasing the of social workers who accompanied officers on calls related to homelessness and mental health emergencies.
But police critics, including some council members, kept pressing for cuts. Soon, they had new developments to advance their cause. The first came in October, when the family of a man who had died in the city jail in April sued the policeaccusing them of killing him during a struggle and then trying to cover it up.
The shackled man, Anthony Hulon, had been arrested on a domestic violence charge and had methamphetamine in his system when he began fighting with officers, officials said. The officers returned to work; Green said he will wait to decide on discipline until after the criminal probe is completed.
A few weeks after the filing of the jail lawsuit, Lansing officers were captured on video hitting a Black man they were trying to arrest while responding to a street fight.
The confrontation drew national attention. Green put three officers on leave; this month, prosecutors said they would not file criminal charges against them. Again, a majority of the council declined to support it. They sent it back to a committee for changes, and it has remained there. Schor, who will present his budget proposal to the council in late March, said he wants to direct more money to social service programs that can help reduce crime and calls, and follow the guidance of his racial justice task force.
With police budget cuts on indefinite hold in the council, activists have pivoted to a long-range strategy that includes holding public forums on how the people of Lansing want to change the criminal justice system, Holland said. That will culminate with their own budget recommendations. Activists say they plan to make the police budget a campaign issue.
This is an election year in Lansing, with Schor seeking another four years in office.
Spitzley recently announced she would run against him. Three council seats are also up for grabs. The City Council, meanwhile, is exploring other ways to reduce the city resources that flow into the police department. That might mean not replacing retired officers, or closing the city jail. He is also part of an effort to examine other sources of funding to the police, including grants from federal and state governments. IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser. Share this —. Follow NBC News. By Jon Schuppe. Jon Schuppe.Looking to change 43 lansing 43
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