Despite high crime rate, Lansing cops say the city is safe

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By Alexis Howell
Listen Up, Lansing staff reporter

Murder. Rape. Robbery. Aggravated Assault. Burglary. Arson. Motor vehicle theft. You name it, it’s happening in Lansing.

According to Neighborhood Scout in 2013 Lansing was ranked as the 80th most dangerous city in the United States. In 2014, Lansing was not within the top 100 dangerous cities; however, as of 2015, Lansing is ranked the 65th most dangerous city in America.

Statistics from Neighborhood Scout shows that Lansing has 10.62 crimes per 1,000 residents, which is well over the national average of 3.8. It also states that Lansing is only safer than ten percent of the cities in the United States. With crime being so high in Lansing, there are 142 crimes per square mile, which is also well over the national average of 37.9.

Contrary to what the Neighborhood Scout statistics said about crime, Lansing Police Public Information Officer Robert Merritt believes that Lansing is a safe city.

Merritt said, “I grew up in Lansing, went to Lansing schools, and have lived as an adult in Lansing and have confidence in the Police Department.”

He believes that the Lansing Police Department staff works diligently to serve its community and make sure it is a safe place to work and live.

Merritt said, “Officers from four platoons patrol the city, which is divided into four sectors consisting of 33 miles. We don’t have added officers, just effective scheduling and proactive policing. We pay attention to problem people and problem areas.”

Justin Pridgeon of Lansing said that he’s been in living in Lansing for 4 years now and thinks overall Lansing is pretty safe. “Considering I lived in Flint before I moved to Lansing, I would say I feel safer here than I did in Flint,” said Pridgeon.

He also said that if he didn’t feel safe, he would just move to a different part of Lansing or maybe even consider East Lansing. Although he feels safe, he said that in watching the news he believes that he hears about more crimes now than when he first lived there.

Graph of FBI statistics of Lansing in 2013. Photo by Alexis Howell.

Graph of FBI statistics of Lansing in 2013. Photo by Alexis Howell.

According to FBI reports, in 2012, Lansing had a great deal of crime. There were 114,688 residents. There were 507 violent crimes, 7 murders, 45 rapes, 98 robberies, 357 cases of aggravated assault, 1,938 property crimes,688 burglaries, 1,137 cases of larceny-theft, 113 motor vehicle thefts, and 14 cases of arson.

Graph of FBI statistics of Lansing in 2013.

Graph of FBI statistics of Lansing in 2013. Photo by Alexis Howell.

In 2013, Lansing only had 113,907 residents; however, crime increased significantly. There were 1,204 violent crimes, 8 murders, 127 rapes, 256 robberies, 813 cases of aggravated assault, 3,960 property crimes, 1,268 burglaries, 2,329 cases of larceny-theft, 363 motor vehicle thefts, and 31 cases of arson.

Taylor DeBerry has her own perspective on crime in Lansing after having lived here for 21 years. She said, “Within these past couple of years, there has been many events that have questioned my security around the Lansing area. When I hear about crime on the news, for example, a burglary, it makes me become more cautious of where I may go in the city of Lansing.”

DeBerry said that she feels safe although more crime has been happening in Lansing, and she makes sure she is consciously aware that anything can happen at any given moment.

Dr. Chris Melde, associate professor at Michigan State University of criminal justice, said that crime has many factors, and not every community can keep it safe.

Dr. Chris Melde

Dr. Chris Melde, Associate Professor at Michigan State University. Photo by Alexis Howell

Melde said that there is an age curve from 18-24 where the peak of crimes happen. After age 24, he said that crime falls really quickly after that. “The criminals and victims, depending on the crime, are in the same age bracket since these are the group of people they are hanging around,” said Melde.

He said that certain behaviors can’t be controlled informally. Social control doesn’t require police. For example, informal rules can affect crime. Parents can control where there kids are hanging out and who they are hanging out with. When communities can regulate behavior, it can have an affect on crime rates.

Dr. Michael Verro, senior program director of criminal justice from Excelsior College said that there are many factors that contribute to crime.

One theory Verro talked about is labeling theory. “As culture changes, so does what we see as a crime.”

Verro said that another factor that can influence crime is social bond theory. He describes this theory by describing people who have no social ties to anything so they feel like they have nothing to lose. These people have no alleigence to anyone in the community so committing a crime doesn’t bother them.

Vero said some people consider social learning as a factor in crimes because children mimic what they see.

According to Crime Mapping, over 100 crimes happened in Lansing between Oct. 14-20. Some of the crimes included larceny, damage to property, burglary and breaking and entering.

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