This afternoon Black Lives Matter Lansing and the community got to hear first hand from candidates running for mayor and city council about their views on police and keeping the community safe.
“This is definitely one of the most polarized issues of our day to day, it’s policing and how that’s going to look going forward into the future,” said Michael Lynn Jr, Black Lives Matter Lansing.
Black Lives Matter Lansing chapter told me they invited everyone whose announced they’re running for mayor or the city council so far, but only three mayoral candidates, and five city council candidates showed up.
The questions focused on policing in Lansing, and what they would plan to change such as implementing community officers, that would not be armed.
“Community police officers are a critical critical crucial element to transforming how we do policing in the city. We need police officers that are non threatening, we need police officers that are embedded in our communities and have those established relationships in our communities,” said Patricia Spitzley, current city council member, and mayoral candidate.
Mayoral candidate Virge Bernaro joined in on the conversation adding that police are still needed for emergencies but there are four components that need to be fixed.
“When it comes to policing right now, it comes down to recruitment, training, accountability and community,” said Bernaro.
Candidates were asked about their opinion on defunding the police, many of them agreed while two others said “transform,” and “improve” rather than yes.
In 2020 the Lansing Police Department announced that they wouldn’t be stopping drivers for secondary traffic violations to try and focus on more dangerous crimes.
Current city council member Brian Jackson says there should be other resources to help those who are interacting with police.
“I want to repeal ordinances that are petty and minor so that those interactions don’t happen,” said Jackson. “I do know your rights training with young people and teach them how to legally assert their rights with police so that it could cut back on negative interactions.”
There will be another virtual candidate forum on campaign priorities on May 6th.
If you’d like to see the entire community conversation the candidates, you can head to the Seen on 6 section.