By Hannah Watts — Grand Ledge Gazette Reporter
GRAND LEDGE – Grand Ledge crime rates remain consistently low with a possible spike in property crimes and thefts in Spring 2014, according to police and fire officials.
Small town setting
The types and amount of crimes committed in Grand Ledge differ greatly from crimes that occur in surrounding cities. According to Grand Ledge Police Department officials, the crime rate in Grand Ledge remains fairly consistent.
“I think it’s fair to say that our crime rate has stayed the same for the last 5 years,” said Martin Underhill, Police Chief at the Grand Ledge Police Department.
Matt Stalding, on-duty officer at the Grand Ledge Fire Department, explained that the low crime rate is attributable to the small town setting.
“There’s not much here to attract people from out of town, so most people go to a surrounding larger city, like Lansing for recreation,” Stalding said.
With the extreme weather and temperatures experienced in the winter months, general safety continues to be a main priority.
“General safety related to weather conditions will be a main focus going forwards because of the volume and frequency of snow and the bitter cold temperatures,” said Dennis James, Detective at the Grand Ledge Police Department.
Breaking down the numbers
The Grand Ledge crime rate per 100,000 citizens has been below the U.S. average for the past decade. It was recorded at 102.4 for 2012, according city data. Lansing’s crime rate crime rate was more than 4 times that amount in 2012 at 422.6.
Thefts and burglaries make up the majority of the criminal incidents in Grand Ledge. James said that extreme winter weather may cause an increase in the occurrences of property crimes and vehicle thefts for Spring 2014.
“Generally we may expect a slight increase in property crimes, vehicle break-ins and vehicle thefts,” James said. “The cold has kept people inside this winter rather than engaging in those criminal activities. Our main focus going forward is deterring those crimes and maintaining patrols in at-risk areas”
Though crime rates within the city have remained consistent, Underhill draws a distinction between crime rates in small towns like Grand Ledge versus large cities like Lansing.
“It’s not like being in a large town like Lansing,” Underhill said. “We don’t have big emerging crime patterns. In a town of just over 8,000, we spend a lot of time on singular problems rather than trends.”
Brandon Moore, firefighter at the Grand Ledge Police Department, said that fast response times also deter potential crime. “Response times are faster, and we have more resources here to get to the scene more quickly and a smaller area to cover,” Moore said.
Crime rates are often higher in large cities because perpetrators have the ability to remain anonymous.
“We try to make it inconvenient for crime in Grand Ledge,” Underhill explained. “That’s easy in a small town. Many people will go to places where crime is most convenient, like Lansing, which has more ground to cover and offers more anonymity.”
Underhill stated that relationships formed between Grand Ledge residents help in keeping the rate low.
“You tend to see more crime in the community when people care less about the community,” Underhill said. “That’s not the case in Grand Ledge. Our population is less transient and the people who are here care about the city and each other.”
Contact reporter Hannah Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org.