Organized Crime

MSU, E.L. police release crime data


As the age-old saying goes, the numbers don’t lie. The phrase holds especially true in East Lansing as recent reports illustrate the extent of the crime happening in the community.

Curious students now can see the illegal activity their classmates and other East Lansing residents have been up to in the past year, thanks to crime mapping and new annual reports from MSU police and the East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, highlighting each department’s crime statistics in 2011.

Crimes on campus
The MSU Police Annual Report 2011, which came out in July, highlights the different types of crime that have been happening on campus and which crimes are most common.

“We enjoy the opportunity to provide service to individual citizens and university departments,” MSU police Chief Jim Dunlap said in the report. “Our success is due to the collective support provided by the community we serve. We are grateful to all.”

In the report, MSU police tallied a total of 3,970 crimes on campus in 2011. Liquor violations were among the highest at 780, followed by about 560 larcenies and approximately 503 traffic violations.

In the parking division of the department, MSU parking officers issued 121,785 parking violations in 2010 and 111,584 violations in 2011.

Parking Operations Supervisor Lynnette Forman said although a fluctuation in ticket numbers is common from year to year, there could be a number of reasons for the about 10,000-ticket difference this past year.

Forman said number differences can result from the experience of parking officers. Years with fully trained staff members who aren’t going through training, running errands or working on projects have higher numbers than years with newer employees, who might take more time learning the ropes and calling back to the office to ask questions, she said.

As for 2011’s lower numbers, Forman said she hopes the information from the parking office regarding parking, university ordinances, permits and registration is beneficial for students.
“We would like to think … that people are learning where they can and can’t park,” Forman said. “That would be fantastic if that were the case. We would love to think we’re educating the public.”

Sin city
The ELPD has issued a new annual report this summer, releasing a breakdown of the criminal activity in the city of East Lansing.

The department recorded 2,981 crimes in 2011, with DUIs as the highest reported crime at 623 counts, followed by 578 warrant arrests and 431 counts of disorderly conduct.

Officers received 97,948 nonemergency calls and 36,129 emergency calls throughout the course of the year.

But ELPD police Captain Bill Mitchell said compared to reports in previous years, the 2011 version highlighted something other than statistics.

“It’s kind of unique,” Mitchell said. “It’s very different from past ones. It gives all the awards that were given out throughout the year.”

The annual report featured some of the department’s community involvement, such as National Night Out, which was designed to increase crime and drug prevention, as well as a program allowing children in Ingham County to visit stores with officers to pick out a Christmas present.

A number of awards were included for officers going above and beyond their call of duty, including Officer Jeff Spitz, who found and coaxed a full confession from a suspect who dumped paint down the side of the Grove Street parking ramp.

The annual report also included letters of appreciation to citizens in the community who helped law enforcement throughout the past year, such as two East Lansing residents who spotted a 3-year-old boy in Spongebob Squarepants pajamas walking by himself down a street, called the police and stayed with the boy until authorities arrived.

Mapping it out
With just a click of the mouse, residents can view when and where crimes have occurred in East Lansing on a new website,

Mitchell said the idea behind the system was to give East Lansing residents a simple, easy-to-use system that will help them stay informed about criminal activity in their area.

“We thought it’d be a good thing with our neighborhood watch people and community groups because they always want to know what’s going on,” Mitchell said.

Anyone can access the map and choose which dates they would like to see. For the month of July in East Lansing, about 60 crimes can be found on the map, including assaults, drug and alcohol violations, thefts, DUIs, vandalism and disturbing the peace.

Users can find crimes dating back to January, when the ELPD first began testing the system out.
As dispatch officers file reports each day, they are automatically downloaded to the map. Mitchell said the map includes most criminal activity in East Lansing, but the program has only been live to the community for a short time, and the department is still “working out the bugs.”

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