By Jasmine Seales
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter
So far, this year has proven to be a racially tense one, with the Black Lives Matter movement gaining strength, and the issue of police brutality very visible across the country.
However, some Lansing residents do not feel that Lansing police is as brutal and unjust as some other officers around the country.
“Police do what they can to protect us. I’ve never had an issue with police here, or anywhere else. They’re just doing their job,” said Aleika Hayes, a local resident.
Overall, the Lansing Police Department has only had 25 recorded officer-related shootings since 1990, and only 10 of them have been fatal. This number is extremely low compared to the over 700 recorded fatal police shootings in the United States in 2016 alone.
“Everyone’s life matters to us. We do our job with integrity and that’s what we want people to understand. Our job is to keep our community and the people in it safe. We have had protesting in the area and are more than open to hearing what the community wants and are willing to give a fair response,” said Robert Merritt, the Lansing Police Department’s public information officer.
Even with statistics to prove that Lansing’s police force is not as brutal as some police forces may be, there have still been local rallies and events in recent years to fight against police brutality.
“We still protest because we want all of our brothers and sisters to know that they are not alone. The issue of police brutality is bigger than the city of Lansing. It’s bigger than all of us. Just because we have a few kind officers here, doesn’t mean brutality doesn’t exist. Just because we have a few kind officers doesn’t mean they don’t profile. Change needs to be made. That’s why we protest,” said Shannon Fields, an activist who marched with MSU Black Student Alliance in 2014.
Lansing Police have been very open about keeping the discussion going as far as police policies, and have been very willing to communicate with the community on many issues. Officers even wanted to clear the air about the issue of racial profiling and give advice about what a person can do if they feel like they are faced with that issue.
“We have heard complaints about racial profiling, but that’s not something we encourage. If a person feels as if they are being targeted, then they should report it to the department to be investigated. Trying to fight the officer when they stop you because you feel like you’re being profiled will only egg on the situation. The easiest way for a civilian to keep a situation from escalating is to stay cooperative and avoid conflict. There are other ways to fight whatever issue you may be facing,” said Merritt.