LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Ingham County is knuckling down on gun crime and repeat offenders, representing a change in tone from the prosecutor’s office.

Incoming Ingham County Prosecutor John Dewane outlined a number of new policies in a Tuesday press release.

Dewane’s statement promised a harder stance on gun violence and homicide, citing a number of changes he’s bringing to the prosecutor’s office.

“I intend to enforce the criminal laws enacted by our Legislature and hold offenders accountable to ensure Ingham County is a safe place for our citizens to live, work, and build their future,” Dewane said in his official release.

He announced that repeat felony offenders will be charged under Michigan’s Habitual Offender Law, which gives harsher sentences to defendants with a long criminal history.

Dewane also stated that the prosecutor’s office will enforce Michigan’s felony firearm law for any person who commits a felony while using or possessing a firearm.

“I believe that if a firearm is used in the commission of a crime, it changes the nature of an offense. It makes that crime uniquely dangerous and life-threatening,” Dewane said in the release.

The new policies bring a noticeable change in the office’s tone on violent crime. Outgoing prosecutor Carol Siemon was a source of controversy for many in the Lansing area who viewed her office as being too lenient toward felony offenders.

One critic of Siemon was Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who gained national notoriety after overseeing the Larry Nassar case in Ingham County.

She argued the former prosecutor was offering plea deals with too light of sentencing after Siemon recommended 30-50 years for a defendant in a double-murder case.

“She is not a legislator; she is not a judge. And she is making our community unsafe. If someone has an offense that should be charged as a life offense, it should be done in accordance with the law. And if she wants to change the law she should run for the legislature,” Aquilina said.

Siemon responded to Aquilina’s criticism by saying her focus was with victims and their families.

“[My] responsibility is to do my best to hold people responsible for the harm they cause others while also ensuring that the criminal legal system is fair, ethical, and just,” Siemon said.

Local law enforcement was also critical of Siemon.

In 2021, Siemon announced that Ingham County would no longer issue two-year felony firearm charges unless extreme circumstances were met in a case.

At the time of the announcement, Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wigglesworth gave a point-blank response to Siemon’s policy, referring to it as “garbage.”

Siemon’s retirement became official on Dec. 31. She began her career in Ingham County as an assistant prosecutor in 1983.

In her retirement statement, Siemon said it had been ‘the honor of a lifetime to serve as Ingham County’s Prosecuting Attorney.’

Dewane joined the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office in 2001 and served as Deputy Chief Assistant for 12 years. His appointment is effective through 2024.