The uniformed officers of the Lansing Police Department (LPD) aren’t the only ones patrolling the city streets and ensuring safety for its citizens.
Meet the members of Lansing’s Neighborhood and Business Watch programs, defined by the LPD as “organized efforts by concerned citizens to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods.” Within the city, there are 150 citizen organizations keeping watch over residential communities; Another 55 group’s focus on business districts.
It is these small bands of civic participants that Captain Daryl Green of the LPD credits with providing tips and leads that helps police investigations and getting to the root of incidents in the communities.
“We can’t put an officer on every corner,” said Green, “so we are dependent on the information provided by these groups. The information they provide has led to solving murder and burglary cases and more.”
According to Green, the Neighborhood Watch program precedes him, dating back to the early 1980s.
While each Neighborhood and Business Watch is different, most are formed with the same structure as recommended by the LPD.
Each program has a coordinator that acts as an intermediary between the LPD Neighborhood Watch Officer and block captains. The block captains will recruit members to patrol their individual streets during agreed upon times. For purposes of organizing the watch efforts, the LPD divided the city into four sectors: sectors one and two in the north and sectors three and four in the south.
Michelle Sidel, director of the Great Lakes Artworks gallery in the Old Town neighborhood, has seen the efforts of the Business Watch program in that area.
“They meet monthly,” she said, “and I feel they take real steps to ensure that our little business district is safe and welcoming to shoppers and tourists.”
The future of the Neighborhood and Business Watch programs appear secure with support reaching as far as the mayor’s officer.
Mayor Virg Bernero, who could not be reached for comment on this story, gave the efforts a prominent spot in his 2012 State of the City address.
“Any amount of crime is too much crime,” he said, “so we must be vigilant especially in tough economic times. The best weapon in fighting crime remains active and involved citizens. So we will continue to invest in our Neighborhood Watch and Business Watch programs to keep our neighborhoods strong and safe.”
To learn more about forming a Neighborhood or Business Watch in your own area, contact Officer Theresa Mironiuk at 517.483.6812.