ELPD Open House
July 26, 5 to 8 p.m.
409 Park Lane, East Lansing
Itching to see what it’s like to be in a jail cell, but don’t have the gall to commit a crime?
You can meet and mingle with the East Lansing Police Department at its annual open house. With vehicle and station tours, a Q&A with East Lansing Chief of Police Larry Sparkes, singing firefighters and a dunk tank benefiting local charities, the open house is meant to be a carefree, easygoing event, said Lt. James Campbell.
“It’s inviting somebody to your kid’s open house when they graduate high school — it's a mingle. We are trying to present a different side of policing you don’t see a lot, and make ourselves accessible,” said Campbell.
In its second year, Campbell said the open house came from community input.
“We had done a community forum in East Lansing, and one of the issues that came from the suggestions is that there was a divide among our citizens and police department.”
Campbell said some comments mentioned an “invisible barrier” between the ELPD and the community, and the open house was a way to bridge this gap.
“We have social media, but there is nothing that takes place of person to person contact,” said Campbell. “You can answer the tough and easy questions while eating a hot dog. The last thing we want to do is be locked up, to not be accessible. We need to do whatever needs to be done to make us more approachable.”
Though the primary focus is on leisure, Campbell said this event will help the ELPD better understand the community they serve.
“We basically don’t know what is going on in the neighborhood unless our citizens tell us,” said Campbell. “When we need info we rely on the citizens for that. This kind of event helps the community trust us and know they can call us.”
Part of this proactive plan is the inclusion of a Q&A with Police Chief Sparkes, said Campbell.
“When citizens have a concern about policy and procedure, our chief will be up front to explain what we’re doing and why we are doing it,” said Campbell. “The officers are upfront and it’s good on our side to see the chief up front too. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.”
The dunk tank will be operational for citizens to get their revenge on officers for issuing them noise tickets. ELPD’s Facebook event page reads, “But really…You deserved it.”
All proceeds of the tank will benefit the Haven House of East Lansing, an organization that provides emergency housing and resources for children and their parents, as well as the City Rescue Mission of Lansing, an organization that provides shelter and meals to Lansing’s underserved population.
Attendees can purchase two balls for $1 or bring canned goods proportional to one ball each. Bringing a pack of diapers will earn 10 balls.
“If anyone has ideas and concerns, we will have a suggestion box and will take a good look at it to see what we can do to improve.”