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Local police departments see a decrease in call volume during COVID-19 pandemic

April 13, 2020
<p>The East Lansing Police Department on Park Lane photographed on March 10, 2020.</p>

The East Lansing Police Department on Park Lane photographed on March 10, 2020.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

As students have returned home and local residents remain indoors, East Lansing Police Department, or ELPD, and Michigan State University Police Department, or MSUPD, continue to support East Lansing community members.

When Michigan State announced classes would transition to online instruction amid COVID-19 concerns, students were encouraged to return home if able. Into the second week of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order, which she has extended until April 30, few students remain in East Lansing.

Similarly, local permanent residents remain at home under Whitmer's order.

ELPD has seen an overall decrease in call volume since students left, taking a substantial part of East Lansing's population with them, according to East Lansing Interim Police Chief Steve Gonzalez.

Complaints of violations of the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order

Under the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order, Michiganders in non-essential professions are required to stay home, except for life-sustaining tasks such as going to the grocery store, pharmacy or hospital. Community members are instructed to remain at least six feet apart from those outside of their household.

"We do see a trend in complaints for violations of the governor's executive order when the weather gets nicer," Gonzalez said.

In response, ELPD sends officers to address the situation.

"Quite often, we don't find actual violations when we arrive on scene," Gonzalez said. "When we do, we have taken a warning approach first and if we need to we can enforce that order, but fortunately, we have not had to do that yet."

ELPD patrols continue to prevent criminal activity

"Officers are spending a lot of time in the neighborhoods, both during the day and at night, as a preventive measure. Just because we know that several homes are empty or sparsely occupied," Gonzalez said. "So, we're hoping to deter any criminal activity."

In comparison to this time last year, Gonzalez said overall police reports have plummeted.

MSUPD continues to patrol campus buildings and residence halls

"We're still responding to calls for service, just like we would do every day," MSUPD Capt. Doug Monette said.

According to Monette, call volume has gone down but MSUPD is continuing response and patrols as usual.

MSUPD is taking a proactive approach by patrolling areas such as residence halls and buildings to ensure the campus remains a safe and secure environment.

"Our officers are making sure that they're taking the appropriate caution in speaking and contacting people, they're protecting themselves and others and keeping a safe social distance," Monette said.

How community members can prevent thefts

According to Gonzalez, thefts have not increased in the East Lansing area, though ELPD continues to receive reports of them.

As preventive measures, Gonzalez suggests:

  • Lock all doors and windows.
  • Leave a light on inside and outside the house at night if possible.
  • Remove valuables from your vehicle.
  • Park your vehicle inside if possible. If not, ensure your vehicle is locked.

Gonzalez also suggests that those remaining in neighborhoods or complexes that have become sparsely populated to keep an eye on their neighbor's homes.

"Check on each other if there's only a few people staying in the house or if you're staying in the house alone, or if you know someone is staying alone, check on them occasionally and make sure they're doing okay," Gonzalez said.

If community members witness any suspicious activity, they are urged to call 911.

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