Tag Archives: Police

Meridian’s police force maintains safe community

When living in a major city, hearing about high-speed chases, armed robberies and homicides is not an unusual circumstance. However, in small towns and municipalities like Meridian Township, these crimes have come in sporadic moments. Not what someone would consider a part of daily life.

The town could even be considered “boring,” by crime standards. Yet, Meridian’s residents and law enforcement are just fine with holding that title.

The Meridian Police Department has a force of 45 full-time officers. With 39,116 residents in the municipality, Meridian Township is considered a safe community. Violent crime is very low, with the last murder more than four years ago.

In the most recent police report, from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2007, Meridian Township has seen a six percent decrease in an already low robbery rate, larceny and traffic accidents. Sergeant Randy Kindy credits both the Meridian Police and the town’s residents for the low crime rate.

“We have quality police service, our department does an excellent job of taking a proactive approach to crime,” said Kindy, who has been a member of the Meridian Police Department for 26 years. “Plus, our relationship with the school systems is excellent. I think people enjoy the service.”

Juliet Wang, a Michigan State University journalism junior and Okemos native agreed.

“I’ve lived in Okemos my whole life and can’t really recall seeing any major crime here,” said Wang. “You would think with the town being next to a major university more crime would occur, but it’s not like that. It’s a safe place to live.”

The biggest increase was robbery. Based on the third quarterly report, from July 1 to Sept. 30, 2007, robbery increased by 300%, from 1 in the 2006 third quarterly rate to 4 in 2007. The biggest drop was larceny, which had a six percent decrease from 186 in 2006 to 174 in 2007.
Another continuing trend is the increase in rape and attempted rape. There has been a 67 percent increase in this category, from six cases in 2006 to 10 in 2007. Sergeant Randy Kindy wants to crack down on all forms of crime, regardless of what it is.

“All crime needs to be addressed,” said Kindy. “You can’t just pick one in particular, they are all important.”

Despite an overall low crime rate, the Police Department has numerous services to keep it that way and prevent future issues. They are aware that in order to maintain a safe environment, the community has to be involved as well.

Organizations such as the neighborhood watch, citizen academy and Capitol Area Response Effort or C.A.R.E. all provide both the police and the town’s population way for both to interact with each other to keep the crime rate low.

The Neighborhood Watch Program involves everyday people who keep an eye out in their neighborhood if a criminal activity takes place. They are able to warn other neighbors and report incidents to the police.

The Citizen Academy is offered by the Meridian Police Department and they inform people about the judicial system and the police department.

C.A.R.E is a program implemented to help victims and families of domestic violence. A team of people is on-call whenever a domestic dispute happens.

These and other programs are ways in which the community joins forces with Meridian Township Police Department to ensure and maintain a safe environment for everyone.

“The fact that we have a good relationship with the community’s residents helps us do our job as police officers,” said Kindy. “That’s the main thing, the professionalism.”

For more information on volunteering for these organizations and others, contact the Meridian Township Police Department at (517) 853-4800.

Lansing Township Officer Don Freels

After working with the Williamston Police Department as a field-training officer, Officer Don Freels joined the Lansing Township Police department. Freels has worked as a police officer in the greater Lansing area for 18 years, the last 4 months at the Lansing Township police department.

Freels became an officer because he enjoyed being active. As a student at Michigan State, Freels first studied computer science, but he was worried the jobs he’d get after graduating would not be physically active enough for him, so he changed his major to criminal justice.

“It didn’t seem active enough,” said Freels, “so I looked for something else, and this is it. It continually presents mental as well as physical challenges.”

Freels worked for Williamston as the field-training officer, where he stressed the importance of officer safety, communication and observation. Freels said he trained about 30 certified officers while at Williamston.

Now at Lansing Township, Freels is the firearm range instructor. Freels said he decided to work for the township because he was interested in a new challenge. Many police officers in the greater Lansing area start their career working part time at smaller departments like Williamston. After a few years, they find full time work at larger departments around the city. Freels joins four other police officers that moved from Williamston to Lansing Township.

The most important skill for a police officer is his observation skills, according to Freels. He said that officers “can’t observe like a citizen anymore.”

“You can’t drive down the road looking down the road because you’re not going to catch anyone doing anything if you’re just looking down the road,” said Freels. “Observation is an active skill that takes self training and discipline to be able to do it the best you can.”

So Freels practices active observation. When driving, he constantly looks between houses and down alleys, looking for suspicious activity. When he patrols a community, he keeps track of the garage doors that are closed in case someone attempts a burglary. While driving past buildings, he flashes a light at the windows; if there is no reflection, then he knows someone smashed a window.

Freels also teaches active observation to his fellow officers. Officer Matt Birr trained under Freels while working in Williamston and now works at Lansing Township Police Department. Birr said Freels taught him “when-then” mindset. Unlike “what-if” thinking, where an officer would assume possible scenarios, in the “when-then”mindset, Birr tries to approach every case expecting any possible scenario. Birr said that when he and Freels worked together, they listened to the radio for calls to other officers, and would discuss how they would handle the case if it were their assignment.

“There’s not much that I do that he hasn’t taught me,” Birr said. “He’ll see something you might have overlooked.”

Officer Michael Sykes also trained with Freels when he worked at Williamston. Sykes said that Freels taught him to think outside the book. “He teaches you to slow things down,” said Sykes, “look for things out of ordinary.”

Freels stresses the importance of safety for his fellow officers, which ranges from knowing how to approach an armed opponent to where to park when pulling a car over for a speeding ticket.

“You have to know what you are doing,” said Freels, “before dealing with it.”

Freels also feels that officer safety relies on the ability to communicate with one’s coworkers. Birr said Freels reminded his partners to talk about anything suspicious they notice in order to act effectively.

Although he no longer holds the official title, Township Police Chief Kay Hoffman said that his ability as a field-training officer would be put to good use. “We have a really good group of officers who are very bright, who work hard and want to do everything the right way for the right reasons.”

Sykes said he is excited to work with his old training officer. He said he feels more comfortable working with previous partners he trusts. Birr also appreciates working with his old training officer because of how much experience he brings to the department.

“He’s always thinking one step ahead,” said Sykes.

Coffee with a Cop in Eaton Rapids

On the last Friday of each month, the Eaton Rapids Police Department reaches out to the community through its Coffee with a Cop program.

Starting at 8 a.m., anyone who needs or wants to talk to Police Chief Paul Malewski can go to Evelyn Bay Coffee Company, 203 S. Main St., and have their questions and concerns answered. It is a way for the ERPD to reach out to its community in a non-threatening, informal atmosphere, explained Malewski. If the chief is not available, another police officer will be there to tend to residents’ needs.

            The Coffee with a Cop program is in its third year, and Malewski said it normally deals with quality of life issues like the amount of trash a resident’s neighbor has piling up in their back yard or public safety issues such as protecting against local crime and making sure residents stay safe.

            “If we don’t provide this to the community we are doing them a disservice,” said Malewski, who has worked with the Eaton Rapids Police Department throughout his law enforcement career. After attending Lansing Community College to study criminal justice and graduating from the Wayne County Sheriffs Training Academy in 1981, Malewski was hired just after graduation as a patrolman. The ERPD was established in December 1981 and Malewski was one of the first patrolmen hired.

            Now in its 27th year, the police department continues to reach out to the community in various ways through programs such as Coffee with a Cop.

Malewski said that it is difficult to estimate turnout of residents for the discussion forum. Since there is no official sign-up for the event, it is hard to determine who has gone specifically to talk with the chief and who jumps in because they think of something to add, but was just there to grab a cup of coffee.

            “We put an advertisement up in our shop,” said Evelyn Bay employee Kirsten Johnson. While she has not worked at Evelyn Bay very long, or during the time slot allotted for Coffee with a Cop, she explained that the coffee shop is a popular place for residents to come. “They come after city council meetings and other meetings,” she said. “Political people come here.” Evelyn Bay is a center where the residents of Eaton Rapids can gather, enjoy a cup of coffee, and make a difference in their community through programs like Coffee with a Cop.

Campus Police

Michigan State University Police reported a number of offenses occurring over the Valentines week including minor in possession or MIP and other incidents.

               Thursday February 14 saw more motorists enjoying the holiday by going out  to dinner with their significant other. While on Grand  River  Avenue between the hours of 8- 10 p.m., bystanders at local restaurants saw quite a significant number of traffic  enforcements occurring.  When questioned  about the abundance of traffic violations MSU Police  Inspector Kelly Beck explained, “There was nothing special about  February 14th traffic  enforcement.   It was business as usual for us.”                   	  	Valentines week also brought more serious offenses, including a fire in North Hubbard Hall around Noon on February 12. The fire,  according to Sergeant McGlothian- Taylor, was an  accidental. The fire was found in the trash compactor room on the north side of the building.   The MSU Police and the East Lansing Fire Department  were called to the scene to investigate.  Resident of Hubbard, Cody Barz said, “I smelt  a little smoke but didn’t think it was a big deal." The fire was confined to one  trash bag that had nearly melted away. Police were able to find its  owners by a delivery receipt found in the bag. Police investigated whether they put anything flammable  in the bag. They found nothing within the  bag that would have caused a fire, so the cause is still unknown. The cost in damage was around $5.00.                     	 	There was a larceny from Wilson Hall cafeteria on February 12 between 12:00 p.m.  and 6:00 p.m. A 21-year old female student employee  reported her  Apple Classic iPod had been  taken from her coat pocket. The cost in losses is around $250.00 for the iPod. There are no suspects,  but the employee believes it  must have been someone who was working on her shift.                   	 	Valentine’s Day saw less incidents occurring in and throughout campus then the two previous days. There was a reported domestic assault  at Shaw Hall  at 9:00 p.m. Other infractions of the day included one MIP, a person driving with a suspended license and a person stopped at the  corner of Hagadorn Road and  Mt. Hope who was arrested for possessing a controlled substance.                	   	Friday, February 15, was a relatively slower day for police then a normal weekend night. There were only five offenses reported throughout  day.  Three of those five were MIP’s reported throughout campus halls. The fourth infraction was driving while under the influence. The offender  was stopped on  Hagadorn Road at 1:50 a.m. The only other offense happened in Lot 20 when a student was found using a fake handicap permit.  	 	Saturday in this city is known as party and bar night, and the offenses that occurred were mostly alcohol related. There were six MIP  infractions including two in the dorms, two in  parking  lots or street and one in the MSU Police Department. A person was found on Shaw Road  in their motor vehicle with an open container of alcohol and ticketed with an open intoxication. A incapacitated person was found on Grand River  Avenue. The only non-alcohol related infraction was a person driving with a suspended license.                   	 	 According to police records the second week of February was statistically on pace with past weeks as far as the number of incidents  occurring within the campus perimeter.  A number that has gone down is the amount of MIP given out. This is due in part to the new law on how  police can not just randomly go up to people on the street and give them a  breathalyzer test. The new law states that police must have reasonable  cause, like a person is being extremely disorderly.