Do you have an opinion?


September 7, 2007

Mayor Virg Bernero
City Hall
124 W. Michigan Ave.
Lansing, MI 48933

Dear Mr. Mayor:

My letter is concerning the continued deliberations about the purchase of $350,000 worth of surveillance cameras for the City of Lansing. The Lansing State Journal reports this morning that the purchase of the cameras may take place though Council recommends otherwise. (See story “Lansing Council may not get say on surveillance cameras”). Mayor, I urge you to cooperate with City Council to keep Lansing safe.

While you have the power as Lansing’s Mayor to take funds from other programs for the camera’s purchase (according to the LSJ’s story already mentioned), I urge you to keep accountable to the Lansing community, the Lansing Police Department, and City Council. We are a community, and communities work together to keep each other safe. As Mayor, your power does not justify using city funds for an expense that is strongly advised otherwise by City Council in this matter of keeping Lansing safe.

While Captain Mark Alley publicly has supported your proposal to purchase cameras, clearly officers in the Lansing Police Department are working under circumstances that impede their ability to keep Lansing safe. In my letter to City Council sent this morning, and to which I copied your email address, I enumerate current conditions that interfere with (1)murder investigations, (2)receiving calls for police assistance, and (3)equipment functioning. Please review the list at your earliest convenience; it is abbreviated from The City Pulse article “Trickle Down Crime Fighting” (available online ).

From what I have learned about the current circumstances of the Lansing Police Department, there are more urgent ways to invest city funds to keep Lansing safe. And while I am personally opposed to the use of surveillance cameras by the City of Lansing, I realize the political likelihood of their purchase. So, the position I am urging to City of Lansing Government at this time is to postpone approving any purchase of cameras until these circumstances of the LPD are investigated. Officers need to be interviewed by City Council members. Will you support this position and encourage City Council to interview LPD officers?

Mr. Mayor, I hope this letter-my third since I began our one-sided correspondence on August 17-elicits a response from you. It is very disappointing as a Lansing resident to hear nothing in reply to specific requests about keeping Lansing safe. It’s also discouraging to learn that you did not respond to calls from Tom Krug, Director of Capitol City Lodge 141 of the Fraternal Order of Police, about dropped calls experienced by Lansing police due to the Ingham County radio system malfunctioning. Please cooperate with City Government officials and residents to keep our city safe, and communicate directly with those of us who are flagging you about ways to improve safety strategies already in place.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2007

I am a survivor of violence and am here tonight because Mr. Mayor has not responded to my letters about safety in Lansing, nor has my ward representative Council President Leeman.

City Government Officials, please fashion an effective and practical response to violence and its direction at women. No magic wand is necessary with local and state anti-violence advocates to advise you.

I have urged you, Mr. Mayor, to seek ongoing input from residents and women—especially in neighborhoods where murders have taken place—as well as survivors and anti-violence advocates.

I informed you of the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence publication titled A Vision for Prevention, which recommends ways for local government to prevent violence against women in Michigan.

I urged you to cooperate with and be accountable to City Council, the LPD, and residents. Gretchen Cochran reports in The City Pulse obstacles to the LPD keeping Lansing safe. I enumerate these in my Sept. 7 letter to City Council—understaffing, un-policed areas, underreported workload, and malfunctioning technology.

City Government Officials, please join us—residents and anti-violence advocates—downtown on October 1 to SPEAK OUT to promote neighborhood safety and to confront violence against women. From 11am to 3pm, we will unite to remember victims, listen to survivors, and dialogue about keeping Lansing safe.

Your participation will deliver a direct message: you are keeping Lansing safe by uniting with residents, who are not customers but voters with homegrown ideas to keep Lansing safe. Demonstrate unity
with residents not over breakfast or dinner but in dialogue.

Editor’s Note: Both the letter and the comment is from Melissa Dey Hasbrook of Lansing, MI.