Lansing Police Officer John Cosme's letter to City Pulse

'My Lansing family, my LPD family'

Posted

My name is John Cosme’. I have been employed by the Lansing Police Department (LPD) for 22 years and almost 4 months. I am of Puerto Rican heritage and have resided in the state of Michigan my entire life. I am the proud son of Filiberto and Leonor Cosme’ and have the best 6 sisters and 2 brothers a person could ever want.   My parents were migrant workers who left Puerto Rico for seasonal employment in Dundee, Michigan. Neither could speak English when they decided to move. Both endured their share of social and economic challenges.   They continue to be the backbone of who I am and what I want to be as a human, husband, father, friend and police officer. I am happily in love with my beautiful wife Kendra Cosme’, who is a proud 19-year business owner in the City of Lansing    We have 2 children and quite frankly there is not enough space in this computer to describe how much we love them and how proud I am of them each and every day.

Currently our world is experiencing incredible challenges, specifically COVID 19 and police reform. The lives lost to this virus have placed are world on notice, along with the disgusting actions leading to the death of George Floyd alerting us that things have to change.   So how does this happen? Pertaining to COVID 19 we must try our best to follow best practices and be mindful of and respectful to others by using out PPE and practicing social distancing. As it pertains to Police Reform, well buckle up because that’s why I typed this letter. Let me be very transparent, I am writing this on my own accord.    This opinion is mine alone, independent of anyone else at LPD. I take sole responsibility for this letter.

When I first saw the video of George Floyd I couldn’t watch the whole video. I wanted to reach into the screen, tackle Ofc. Chauvin to the ground and arrest him. Witnessing his blatant misuse of force was horrifying. I completely understand the response that followed. I do not however support those who have misused the death of Mr.Floyd as an opportunity to loot and destroy other people’s property. Consequently, the massive psychological and economic stress brought on by the dual calamities COVID19, and, the natural rage of seeing George Floyd die the way he did is more than most people could bear without reacting.    

So, where does that leave us here in the City of Lansing? How do we ensure that we are using the best practices? What do you the Lansing resident know about Lansing Police Department’s history? I want to share with you what I know as a 22 year plus veteran of the great Department.  

QUESTIONS –

  • How many times in the last 22 years and 4 months (that I can recall) has an LPD officer shot and killed an unarmed person?
  • How many times in the same time frame has a LPD officer used excessive physical force causing the death of a person?
  • What do you know about LPD policies pertaining to use of force?
  • Do you know what the VIOLENT CRIME IMPACT TEAM is?
  • Do you know what FOCUSED ENGAGEMENT is and how it is implemented?
  • What is/are MATS forms.
  • Did LPD hesitate when it came to finding the funds to equip its officers with AXON body cameras?

ANSWERS –

QUESTION # 1 - 0

QUESTION # 2 – 0

QUESTION # 3 -   I know through conversations that our use of force policy is under currently under review and improvements are expected. These improvements are not the result of current perceived recent failure but are the welcomed result of the reminder that we must always strive to improve.  Periodic policy upgrades are very important for every law enforcement agency in this country. We as officers must have the best training available. The answers to questions 1 and 2 are obvious results of such training.

My hope is that our improvements include more training sessions, the best equipment and best technique’s to ensure safe and swift results for LPD police officers and citizens alike. I have personally experienced (literally) being on my back fighting with armed suspects several times in my career. Trust me it is a terrifying position to find yourself in.  There are many calls that we respond to that turn into physical altercations. We train constantly to survive such encounters with the least amount of injury to the suspect and ourselves.

To our Lansing citizens I say “thank you, for supporting LPD with the necessary financial resources to fund our training. The topic of “De-Funding” the police would without a doubt negatively affect the quality of training we receive at LPD. Our LPD budget pays for our instructors to be sent to the best training available. Our budget also provides the funding for quality equipment, class training on de-escalation techniques, implicit bias training, social awareness training and stress management as well. All of these cost money. De-funding our budget would make it impossible to continue. I refuse to believe that the law-abiding citizens of Lansing would want such a thing as “police defunding” it takes us backwards in terms of police-community relations!

QUESTION # 4 – This topic is near and dear to my heart. The Violent Crime Impact team (VCI) was initiated in early 2014. With the mission of assisting our LPD Detective Unit with solving violent crimes ( murders , attempted murders, armed robberies, weapon offenses ect ..), identifying and proactively investigating Lansing’s most violent offenders and working jointly with our boarding jurisdictions to assist them with their violent offenders . The Team also assist the Michigan Department of Corrections with recently paroled former state inmates.  Likewise we have an amazing working relationship with the Michigan State Police who are embedded with our team during what is called “ Secured City Policing “.  

In the 6 year time frame of VCI/SCP we have seized almost 400 guns . As a credit to great training, our team has never been involved in the shooting of a suspect. A majority of the weapons seized have been in the possession of -- or in the wingspan of-- the suspect. NO SHOOTINGS, NO LOSS OF LIFE , NO ISSUES OF EXCESSIVE FORCE !!!!!!!

Honestly , I see that many departments across the country are disbanding units similar to VCI. I cannot and will not irresponsibly judge other agencies that I know nothing about. I also will not be alarmist and assume that if other police agencies units are being disbanded then that means LPDs units will also be disbanded. LPD does not deserve to be judged by the mistakes of any other agency in this country.

I would urge you to research what is currently happening in NEW YORK as the quick decision are being made to disband special units in response to the hysteria of perceived corrupt police saturating their communities, resulting in New Yorkers currently experiencing a massive increase in homicides and other violent crimes.

I urge the citizens of Lansing to please SLOW DOWN AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH!!!   Political and personal agendas are running rampant during this election year. The time to fairly share the truth about YOUR local Police Department needs to happen.   This is a great city with awesome people!! You deserve the truth.

Despite what some are attempting to convince you about LPD, our Department welcomes reform, we welcome improvement, and we always have. A knee jerk reaction-- and reallocation of police funds to satisfy misinformed bullies-- is neither prudent or fair. The idea that LPD can operate at its current the high level by drastically cutting our budget by 50% should be embarrassing for anyone supporting the idea.   Look at the truth—not uniformed opinions and conjecture-- as it pertains to our Department.

If local government, elected officials, and social services have failed this community, why are the Police being blamed and punished for that?  Why are we being defunded?   Why is it fair to victimize our Lansing citizens by defunding LPD and reducing our ability to provide our best services?? how long have those that are screaming the loudest actually been invested in our City?  The answer to the last question is clearly NOT LONG ENOUGH.   Twenty years and 4 months is how long I’ve been invested in serving this great city !

To our Lansing residents VCI is very important as it relates to violent crime and with continued support, it will continue to have success. Look up MOST DANGEROUS CITIES IN THE COUNTRY. Lansing can be so much better. Let’s not go backwards.

Could a shooting happen with the VCI work group? Yes! If it happens, demand the facts of the incident, and judge us by our actions. Proactive policing is a major component to preventing violent incidents and without it people unfortunately die.

My question to you is “should we be without it”? Imagine if close to 400 guns were never seized, countless violent offenders never arrested, dozens of homicide cases not given the resources they deserve.

As a citizen of Lansing you should want every available resource used by this city. I know without question the efforts of this team have saved lives, redirected criminal actions, and improved the quality of lives for our City.  

QUESTION # 5 – What is focused engagement.   It’s a collaborative use of LPD/MSP/ELPD/MDOC/ICSO/ECSO and other law enforcement resources. The efforts of these agencies are designed to address the areas in the city that are having a high volume of calls for service such as drug complaints, weapons and/or shooting complaints. LPD Community Police officers take a big role in this effort and are able to address long standing issues affecting the quality of life in those areas. We have had tremendous success during such engagements.

Prior to each deployment it’s clearly explained to the officers that our efforts will be focused on the highest reported crime area’s and most violent offenders. We avoid writing tickets/citations and we use our discretion with misdemeanor warrants and instead of arresting people, we advise the subject of the warrant and allow them an opportunity to resolve the issue at a later date.

I share Focused Engagement with you as another reminder of the forward thinking the Lansing Police Department employs. Having a close relationship with our community is a high priority for your CPO officers. In my opinion the closer we are to each other the better we will be to each other.   The current political climate is causing division within our cities, and we must try to calm each other down, strive to meet near the middle.  

QUESTION # 6 – Management Analysis of Traffic Stops. MATS forms is a response to the national issue of Police Profiling. LPD volunteered to participate in the collecting of data related to traffic stops. We have done this for 18 years!!!   The Lansing State Journal recently wrote on this topic in an article suggesting that LPD has an issue with traffic stops based on race.   I strongly suggest you, as the consumer of your own information research original findings of this study. The original findings stated LPD did not show a profiling issues but fast forward to now and suddenly we do.

This study never claimed that it would prove that racial profiling exist Lansing. The goal was to obtain information and determine if issues may exist. What you were not told about were the variables.

For example, a majority of our traffic stops are conducted by our LPD Traffic Unit. A majority of their stops are based on speed violations.   LPD does not use-- nor have we ever had-- a hand held radar system that identifies race!!   In fact , no race identifying radar has never been made.   If the traffic units MATS forms are included into the total count of all our MATS forms it distorts the race disparity so much that is becomes misrepresented.  

All I’m saying is there is no perfect system when dealing with racial profiling. LPD acknowledged the importance of participating with the MATS forms 18 years ago.

Full discloser, I have been stopped by police and clearly felt the stop was based on my race. For me however the lesson of controlling my own destiny was taught at a very young age. I can’t stop what I may perceive to be a racist officer from pulling me over. But I can control what direction the stop goes. I promise them that they won’t find drugs, guns or any other reason to satisfy what I perceive to be racist actions.  

QUESTION # 7 – Axon Body cameras.   This department obtained and began utilizing body worn cameras as soon as our budget could afford it. Defunding us could prevent body camera purchases

I absolutely love my body camera. I truly love it when people pull out the phones and record everything I do. Everyone especially police need to be held accountable for their actions. I hope that our national reform effort s include money for departments and agencies that cannot afford the expense of quality body cameras.

How exactly does defunding our police budgets help us to reform, improve and provide accountability?

I’ve heard there is discussions regarding consensual traffic stops. Meaning if your stopped you have the right to refuse and drive away. What does this mean for you the law abiding citizen of Lansing? What does this mean for you the criminal resident of this city.   For the law abiding citizen, fair minded citizen it means embolden criminals. Criminals bringing more drugs and guns into your community. It means violent offenders never being stopped and arrested on warrants. It means late night criminals not being stopped before they break into your home. It means drunk drivers not held accountable before they crash and kill someone. It means embolden drivers speeding down our streets . Worst of all it means your trusted elected officials are assuming the Lansing Police Department cannot be trusted to make legal traffic stops. What it this based on?

The traffic stop is without question the most impactful action a Police Officer can utilize.   The crime that is prevented by traffic stops has a huge impact on quality of life issues in our communities.   The idea that these trusted officials are considering consensual stops is alarming.   I wonder what type of communities our elected officials live in?   Is it an area that has a high crime rate or is it an area were police are not commonly called on for services.

Police in general are called upon to maintain a level of civility in our communities. We are never called to deal with someone that is not committing a crime or breaking the law. We are invited into the lives of strangers and asked to fix the problem.   Domestic assaults, Felonious assaults, rapes, robberies, shootings, murders and the list goes on. The members in our communities that commit these crimes have to be held to some level of accountability. When you create a policy that empowers a criminally minded person you are essentially adding another tool in the toolbox.  Example, a good friend of mine that works in law enforcement stopped a male driver for a legitimate traffic violation. During the encounter the driver quickly accused my friend of racial profiling and refused to cooperate with the stop. During the contact it was discovered that the driver had a valid warrant for his arrest. The driver was then informed of this but refused to step out of the vehicle, fearing this officer was going to harm him. The after many attempts to gain cooperation male driver was eventually arrested w/o harm. During the legal arrest a loaded firearm was discovered in the subjects front jacket coat pocket.

A law abiding citizen when stopped accepts the stop for what it is. The criminal does not.   Have police officers made mistakes on traffic stops during heated encounters YES! We must hold them accountable to every measure of the law. Was this young man driving around with an illegal firearm YES! We must also hold him accountable as well.

The truth of the matter is that the overwhelming amount of police encounters during traffic stops end well. A diligent hard working police officers is one that takes every opportunity to proactively police their communities. Not using traffic stops as an investigative tool prevents law enforcement from having the ability to properly do our jobs.

In closing, I’m not sure if anyone has any interest in publishing this letter. Lately it seems our local newspapers and media outlets only want to “expose” negative side of a clearly two sided story. So let’s all be very clear, I welcome improvement, we as your police department welcome improvement. However, be forewarned that personal gain and political agendas drive much of the current political discourse. This is after all an election year.

Of course there is much more to LPD than what I have written There are committed detectives, dedicated narcotics investigators, ATF, DEA agents and Task Force Officers, a committed Traffic Unit, diligent Crime Scene Investigators and so much more.   You, the Lansing resident need to know what caliber your Police officers is and have been for a very long time. We will always strive to make ourselves better and more efficient but any change to be beneficial and effective should make sense, and it has to be well discussed and well defined.

I work with amazing people committed to good service. Do we have off days? can we be rude on occasion? can are driving frustrate you? will our response to calls not be perfect? will it aggravate someone to be arrested, or see a friend or family member get arrested? is it annoying to get a speeding ticket?…. YES! You are not perfect and neither are we.  Will we make everyone happy? OF COURSE NOT CRIMINALS HATE THE POLICE!!!!!

However, when it comes to law abiding citizens, citizens involved in our communities, citizens demanding good change, citizens who are fair and actually have a vested interest in the betterment of Lansing, MI, I respect and applaud you.  

Respectfully ,   Coz

Badge #167

PS: Recently there was a mass shooting in South Lansing. 5 people were shot. This event was reported on CNN as well as locally. During LPD’s attempt to investigate not a single person was willing to help.  If a false narrative about the Lansing Police caused the unwillingness from our community to help solve such a horrible incident, I worry about this city and future acts of violence.  

Human life matters!!!! The truth matters!!!!!! Trust matters!!!!!!!!! Fair and sensible policy change matters!!!!!

To trusted elected officials, you have a responsibility to do your job. Do not sacrifice the quality of life for our Lansing residents with poorly discussed, politically motivated changes. This is your duty.

**** To date, the City of Lansing has had 590 Shots fired calls in 2020.   171 of these incidents involved victims, seizure of evidence or damage to property. The increase in shootings is dramatic when compared to last year.   We have real issues that requires proactive policing and a healthy relationship with our community. Let’s control our own narrative! ****

Comments

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Riddick0691

Perhaps Officer Cosme's editorial would have more credibility had he begun by providing appropriate context. Information about LPD's police involved shootings is available but is limited to the years 1970-2018. According to Lansing Open Data, there were 32 such shootings during that time. Half of thiose shootings were fatal. Of the fatal shootings, half were of Black or Latinx people. All fatal shootings were deemed to be justified by LPD, a classic case of the fox guarding the hen house. In 2010, the Black population in Lansing was 22.3% and the Latinx population was 12.5%, both all-time high percentages, yet they comprise 50% of police involved shootings during the above years. . Does the finding BY police OF police use of deadly force seem right to you? Does the disproportionate number of Black and Latinx people shot and/or killed by LPD seem right? Painting a rosy picture of LPD's use of force, stating your undying love for your family, snd offering your family heritage in an attempt to bolster your credibility is misleading and shameful, Officer Cosme. Lying by omission is as bad as lying outright. Institutions seeking to hide or justify wrongful behavior often attempt to hide behind one of their own who is also a member of the group being harmed. In this case, Officer Cosme just the right person behind which LPD can hide its inherently conflicted review procedure and the fact that its members are stunningly more likely to shoot black and brown people than white people. His doing the bidding of LPD simply reinforces the common perception that the Blue Line Club lacks transparency, accountability, and honesty in addressing its practices. .

Wednesday, July 22
Kristinerphelps

Bring back and add more CPO'S (community police officers) as a resident of Lansing there has been a huge increase in crime since our CPO was moved back to patrol due to COVID.

Wednesday, July 22
Stonewiegman

I agree with Officer Cosme. I do not believe LPD is an abusive police department. The tactics used by Minneapolis PD are outdated and not taught by the police academy at LCC, where many of the officers take their training. Calling for defunding a police department without an extremely careful, independent analysis would be tremendously detrimental to the residents of Lansing. The proposed defunding resolution by Councilperson Bretz is, IMO, a complete pandering to the loudest voices. Can things be made better at any institution? Most certainly. Are there bad police officers. Most certainly. But I can guarantee you no one hates and dislikes bad police officers than good police officers.

I was born and have lived in the City of Lansing for over 60 years. I have worked with many LPD officers since 1976 until 2001. I have seen LPD when they have lost a fellow officer. I have seen LPD time after time after time work their hardest and best on days many would have called it a day. If cities start defunding police departments many good officers will leave their field of training, and who would blame them? I would encourage those yelling the loudest for defunding to do more than one ride-along. They need to work one week doing what LPD officers, and many other PDs do, day after day after day. Pupt up being spat on; screamed at, lied to, respond to a child abuse complaint, take a suicide report, go to a homicide scene, break the news to a family their loved one has died.

LPD's hiring standards will dramatically drop and you then you will get the proverbial what you pay for. Crap candidates that shouldn't be a police officer anywhere. Currently, LPD has high hiring standards and a rigorous testing program. Once again, if you defund a critical city department without all the information one needs to make an educated, informed, public safety decision you do not give a hoot about this city of the integrity of this police department.

In conclusion, Bretz and Schor need to quit pandering and knee jerking to the last media hype. They need to educate themselves and, IMO, the current chief of police needs to stand tall for his department, his employees.

Wednesday, July 22
moose

In response to Riddick0691. Perhaps this situation you mention does need more investigation. To begin, I would begin with 911 tapes. The reason is the NAACP was going to police departments to find out if there was a bias because the percentage of young black men in jail was much higher than any other race. The chief of police handed them 30 days of 911 tapes and the corresponding police reports. They returned them without saying a word. The Detroit News followed up on the story and a representative said they could not deny the fact 80 to 100% of violent crimes were committed by young black men in the city on any given night. Additionally, in almost every call, a black citizen was the one who reported it. This was at a time when the population of black citizens in Detroit was about 65 to 70%. After this, the NAACP no longer pursued this type of investigation. In conclusion, the 911 call recordings will tell the truth about what your questioning.. This avoids any possible manipulation of data by department personnel. Thank you for your service officer Cosme.

Wednesday, July 22
James Terrell

Well Riddick, you show your own ignorance to context. The fact that violent crime is causation for officer's contacts and unfortunately, shootings, is a statistics 101 class you must not have taken. African Americans make up roughly 14% of the population, yet, 57% of all homicides and 60% of all robberies are committed by them. Causation of crime is absolutely a critical component to when police officers encounter people of color. Do you really think comparing racial population stats to shootings and crime is even fathomable? Everyone knows in communities of color the crime rate and especially violent crime rate is exponentially increased as a result of poverty, unemployment, education, single mothers raising children, lack of opportunity, etc. Therefore, the officers encounter violent crime and violent criminals more often in these communities. Police officers are 14 more times to be killed by an African American male than any other race. Read the peer reviewed studies, including the one done by Michigan State University and educate yourself before making ridiculous left wing mantra comments that does nothing to further progress.

Thursday, July 23

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