THURSDAY, March 12 — The Lansing Police Department is curbing its response to several types of non-violent crime in the city amid ongoing efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Until further notice, police officers in Lansing will no longer physically respond to any reports of larceny, malicious destruction of property or shoplifting where a suspect cannot be readily identified and where the value is under $1,000, attempted breaking and entering of unoccupied buildings like garages, identity theft where the victim wasn’t financially harmed, harassing communications, lost property and fraud when the venue of the crime is outside of city limits.
Officers will continue to respond, however, to any reports where a suspect can be identified regardless of the value or the type of criminal behavior, according to a city spokeswoman.
City officials made the announcement today with the stated intent of maintaining “continuity of police operations while mitigating police employee contact with coronavirus.”
“This will not have an impact on crime in Lansing,” said Mayor Andy Schor. “Officers taking crime reports online after a crime has happened does not increase crime. Officers will remain visible in the community and continue to work closely with neighborhood partners regarding public safety efforts. LPD’s alternative call response plan is a precaution to help protect our residents, as well as our police officers from COVID-19 exposure.”
Officers are also instructed to wash their hands, clean and disinfect work stations and commonly touched surfaces, and offer protective masks to residents who are sneezing or coughing in public, officials said. Residents are also asked to complete property crime reports online or over the phone rather than in person.
“A couple of those things make sense, but a few of them are deeply concerning,” opined former Mayor Virg Bernero. “This makes no sense to me. It seems like an invitation for criminal activity in this city. I don’t get it.”
Residents are also encouraged to download the Public Mobile PD app to access crime alerts and to submit tips about possible criminal activity. Other non-emergency reports — like for disabled vehicles and trash complaints — can also be filed online through the city’s Lansing Connect website and mobile app.
Police Chief Daryl Green, in a release, said the changes remain in effect “until further notice.”
Additionally, the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office has suspended taking all fingerprints for the general public for non-court related business. Group programming has also been reduced at the county jail and guests are discouraged — and may be denied access — for all “non-essential” inmate visits until further notice.
“Hands have been deemed one of the most likely ways to transmit the virus,” according to a Facebook post from the Sheriff’s Department. “The sheriff’s office will resume taking prints for the general public at a later date with our Health Department. In addition, we will be limiting access to all non-essential persons to our facility.”