By Jennifer Brown Staff Writer
he City of Lansing proposed a 10.9 percent increase in spending for the city police department for the 2013 fiscal year. This increase is accompanied by a 16.3 percent increase for the city fire department.
In November voters approved a $1.5 mill property tax dedicated to police officers. The money will be going towards technology such as police car radar units, modems, and printers. This will alleviate some of the city’s spending on the department. A seven percent change will be instituted, with the city budget for the police department decreasing from $37.4 million to $34.1 million.
The police department accounts for 20 percent of the citywide budget and the fire department for 16 percent.
The numbers of officers in the police and fire departments have been steadily declining since 2010. The largest cut happened in the 2012 fiscal year, when the number of police officers dropped from 328 to 260 employees, a 20 percent decline. The fire department has been experiencing the same kind of trend, with 179 currently employed.
A special millage was approved for the police, fire and roads that allowed for seven police officers to be recalled from layoff. Six patrol officers and one supervisor will join the Lansing Police Department (LPD). Four of the six new patrol officers will be assigned to community policing and two of them will be appointed to violent crime interdiction. The one supervisor position will be a sergeant supplementing the department’s supervisory ranks.
The addition of officers to the LPD is beneficial to residents and will not cost more than the current allotted amount in the budget, said Mayor Virg Bernero. Thanks to the voter-approved millage, the city will experience heightened surveillance and protection. He said the safety of residents is of the utmost importance to the department, which will be increased thanks to the addition of incoming officers.
Bernero said at a city council meeting March 25 that budget improvements for the LPD will continue in the upcoming 2014 fiscal year. Improvements include more budget streamlining and an extension of the recall of previously laid-off officers.