The East Lansing Downtown Management Board (DMB) spent time focusing on safety for everybody in the downtown area as well as discussing how to have a successful holiday season.
At the Tuesday (Dec. 5) meeting, the DMB heard two special presentations concerning downtown safety and homeless outreach.
ELPD Deputy Chief Chad Pride presents about downtown safety statistics and actions.
At the request of the board, East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) Deputy Chief Chad Pride attended the meeting to discuss downtown safety and crime statistics in East Lansing. Pride’s presentation followed a presentation from ELPD Officer Katey Harrison about downtown safety concerns at the Nov. 22 meeting of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
“Per FBI statistics for the last 10 years, violent crime in the US has gone down,” Pride said. “Locally, in the state of Michigan, violent crime has also decreased. But locally, in East Lansing, since 2020, we have seen an increase.”
With an increase in firearms and shootings downtown in the year of 2022, especially with 31 gunshots being fired downtown in one night, Pride said the ELPD has shifted a lot of its focus to firearm safety. Since that shift, the department has seen a decrease in gunfire in 2023.
“This year, we haven’t had as many shootings,” Pride said. “We have also been finding and taking in more guns.”
With the addition of the Proactive Engagement and Community Enhancement (P.E.A.C.E) Team, Pride said the ELPD has been able to increase safety measures and put more of their attention on protecting the downtown area.
The P.E.A.C.E Team – a collaborative policing team formed by ELPD and the Michigan State Department of Public and Public Safety (MSU DPPS) – focuses, according to its website, on “de-escalation, community mental health and constitutional policing,” as well as “seizing illegal firearms and making arrests.”
Moving forward, ELPD is looking to work with the DMB to get more lighting downtown and is talking about getting more security cameras around the city.
Advent House Ministries staff present about its street outreach program.
In another attempt to increase safety for all residents, executive director of Advent House Ministries, Susan Cancro, presented to the DMB about its outreach program.
“In my 30 years of working at Advent House, I have not seen homelessness as bad as right now,” Cancro said. “There is not enough housing, not enough food and this gets people more involved in things they shouldn’t be doing.”
Advent House has staff trained to assist people who are struggling with homelessness.
The outreach specialist for East Lansing is Julia Zailskas, who has been surveying the city, passing out sack lunches and being a friendly face on the city streets since August 2021.
“Making the time to interact with people is what’s important,” Zailskas said to DMB members.
The Advent House staff also spent time discussing with DMB issues business owners are encountering and ways to approach various situations with homeless individuals.
Holiday season is a busy time for the Downtown Management Board.
With the holiday season, the DMB has been busy and Community and Economic Development Specialist Matt Apostle updated the board on what has been going on.
The DMB recently ran its successful DNA Holiday BOGO Campaign. The campaign launched on Nov. 24, and the $5,000 BOGO funds were spent by Nov. 28.
Beyond this campaign and the holiday decorations that were installed on Nov. 15, city staff is interested in doing more to support downtown businesses during the holiday seasons.
One idea the city has presented, according to the Apostle, is bringing back the Holiday Gift Guides for each downtown area. The guides were last used in 2021.
Other ideas for the future include a Small Business Saturday promotion, free parking on Black Friday and/or Small Business Saturday, and social media promotional campaigns which highlight businesses.
“It would be nice to see ways to start encouraging retail in East Lansing,” Greg Ballein, owner of the Student Book Store on Grand River Avenue, said.
Correction: The third paragraph of this story has been corrected to read “the Nov. 22 meeting of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).“
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