By: Jack Crawley
Old Town Times staff writer
The Lansing Police Department works with many residents and businesses in Old Town through its Neighborhood and Business Watch programs, which work to cut down crime in both residential and commercial areas of the city.
Many Old Town residents are involved in the Neighborhood Watch. Theresa Mironiuk, the officer in charge of the programs, said that a lot of the activity within Old Town neighborhoods run through the Lansing Neighborhoods Council.
Many Old Town businesses, however, are involved with Business Watch. Mironiuk said that the idea for the Business Watch was based on the Neighborhood Watch model. Both involve people and police working together in order to help deter crime. Additionally, businesses involved with the program receive updates on crimes committed against other businesses in the area and crimes that are trending.
While Summer Schriner, owner of Grace Boutique, said that she can tell the LPD, which recently had to deal with heavy cuts, has been very busy lately, the department could be getting even busier if Mironiuk’s goals for the Neighborhood and Business Watch programs are met.
“Ideally, my goal would be to have a majority of the city involved, or at least certain areas of the city where if someone wanted to be a part of it they could join one that’s relatively close to there’s,” Mironiuk said. There are currently 133 neighborhood watches and 44 business watches. Mironiuk is the only officer working on the programs. She said that since July 1, 15 neighborhoods and at least 20 businesses have started watches.
Business owners within Old Town seem happy with the program. “It makes me feel safer knowing what’s going on out there and to watch out for certain things that might be happening. If anything is trending, whether it be theft or vandalism, it just gives you a chance to watch out for those kinds of things so hopefully you won’t become victim to that yourself,” said Sarah Christiansen, owner of Katalyst Gallery.
Christiansen also said that the LPD’s Business Watch program helps add to the sense of community in Old Town’s business district, but that relationships among the businesses are already strong. Schriner also feels that Old Town businesses do a good job of watching out for and communicating with each other. “Area businesses seem to have a bit of a network going on, where, especially in Old Town, everyone tries to call everyone else if something is going on. LPD more keeps us updated on what’s going on everywhere, and they do everything they can for us in that area, but it’s more of our neighborhood’s responsibility to contact each other,” Schriner said.
Perhaps it’s this strong feeling of community and protection among fellow businesses in Old Town that persuades Christiansen that the district’s reputation as a sometimes dangerous area is a misconception. Christiansen said that Katalyst has not had any crime problems.
Schriner feels the same way.
“It’s a very close-knit neighborhood. I feel safer here than I do in my own neighborhood. Everyone’s always kind of keeping an eye out for each other here, and I think that definitely make it feel like a lot safer place to be,” Schriner said.
Despite businesses feeling like Old Town is a safe zone, Schriner said that there have been incidents of suspected shoplifters, but that communication among the businesses has been good in these cases. She also said that if an actual crime takes place, they are sure to contact the LPD.
Please see the resources below if you are interested in becoming involved in a neighborhood watch or are a business owner who would like to get your business involved in a watch. Also below is map of North Lansing neighborhood watches.
Neighborhood and Business Watch Info:
- Neighborhood Watch Startup Packet
- Neighborhood Watch Inquiry Form
- Business Watch Registration Form
- Business Watch Information