By Madison Morse
Living in the Ledge Staff Reporter
An act of violence can occur at any moment, place or time. This became all too real on Feb. 20 when a mass shooting in Kalamazoo left six people dead and two injured. This tragedy has the community of Grand Ledge
buckling down to stay one of the safest cities in Michigan.
“We can take a lot of information from the shootings,” said Lt. Chris Blievernicht of the Grand Ledge Police Department. “First, we always make sure we have a plan in place. Next we go through a risk assessment. We go talk to people that were involved in the incident and see if they had the means or abilities. Do they have a plan or weapons?”
This is Grand Ledge’s chance to take advantage of a learning opportunity said Capt. Penny Fischer of the Michigan State University Police Department.
“This is a wake-up call,” said Fischer. “It is a wake-up call to review practice plans. This is the chance to make sure the community has done a good job of educating their plan.”
In 2015, the violent crimes per 1,000 people was just at 0.77 in Grand Ledge while the property crimes per 1,000 people resulted in 13.38. Both of which are below the U.S. average according to safewise.com.
“There are three basic principles everyone needs to know if there is an act of violence occurring,” said Lt. Cameron Wassman of the Central Michigan University Police Department. “One: The best choice is to get away. Two: Protect yourself. Lock doors, barricade them, get secure. Three: If you can’t do either and it comes down to it, do whatever it takes to get out alive.”
Grand Ledge is now trying to better understand what is happening within the community by connecting with residents through various forms of social media such as their Facebook page. This tool allows the police department to hear about potential harms in the community.
“I absolutely think this is a great idea,” said Fischer. “Having more information and knowledge can allow you to be more prepared. It’s a huge intelligence information gathering tool. This generation likes to talk on social media. Why would we not listen?”
Social media accounts that the Grand Ledge Police Department operate are also used to give monthly reminders to residents on how to stay safe and prepare, especially during the harsh winter months.
“We like to put out a monthly bit of awareness to help the community prepare,” said Blievernicht. “For example, February was about making sure everyone had a couple gallons of water stocked up just in case the water goes out. So many big things can go wrong so we try to break them down into smaller tips on how to prepare.”
Residents of the Grand Ledge feel that all the efforts being put in by the police department and community are making a difference.
“I think Grand Ledge is a safe community, said Grand Ledge resident Morgan Garrison. “Every small community has minor crimes, but it’s rare in Grand Ledge. Many people who live in Grand Ledge have lived there their entire lives and have raised children who live on their own there. Since most people have strong ties to the community, the community is a safe place to live.”