Mayor Schor cites public safety, new officers as a priority in State of the City address

Plans call for hiring 15 more police if state funds are approved


WEDNESDAY, March 13 — Faced with public concern about safety in Lansing, Mayor Andy Schor proposed last night hiring 15 additional police officers with funds he is hoping the state legislature will approve.

“I hear often from residents and businesses that they'd like to see more patrols and more community policing,” Schor said.

The appropriation depends on the Senate's approval of legislation to create the Public Safety and Violence Fund, which the House has already passed. Schor said the fund would provide Lansing with more than $3 million a year for crime prevention. The city’s police budget for this fiscal year is just over $50.1 million, a slight decline over the previous year.

“This legislation would dedicate part of the state sales tax toward public safety for cities that have experienced higher crime. This would allow us to go to almost 230 officers citywide,” Schor said.

Schor revealed his plan during his 7th annual State of the City address at Grewal Hall at 224 in downtown Lansing.

Schor noted that the funding would be included in his next budget proposal, contingent on legislative approval.

He said part of the funding would go toward Lansing’s branch of Advance Peace, a fellowship dedicated to ending gun violence and promoting neighborhood safety.

Lansing had 75 shootings in 2023 compared to 71 in 2022. Fatal shootings were the same each year: 13, according to Advance Peace.

Safety was a key theme in this year’s address. Schor cited a 27% decrease in violent crime and a 17% decrease in homicides from 2021. He said the city’s Violent Crime Initiative has taken over 1,600 firearms off the streets since then. He also promised continued efforts to reduce speeding and make streets safer for pedestrians.

In his address, Schor confirmed his intention to continue pursuing City Council approval to purchase the old Masonic Temple on Capitol Avenue as a new home for City Hall. The Council rejected the plan on a 4-4 vote to buy the building from the Boji Group for $3.65 million. However, it did approve accepting a $40 million state grant to fund a new city hall.

“I am still committed to a new city hall,” Schor said, adding that he will work with the Council members who “indicated they wanted more time to evaluate this proposal and share it with the public.”

Throughout the speech, he touched on a variety of residential and commercial developments going up throughout the city, including a new $175 million public safety and district court complex, $6.2 million to repair Moores Park Pool, $1.7 million for a new Fish Ladder Amphitheater in Old Town and more. 

The biggest project he cited is New Vision Lansing, a $228 million, three-building proposal from the Gentilozzi family that would include the 26-story Tower on Grand, a residential development that would become the tallest building in the city. The Council accepted another $40 million grant for that proposal in a unanimous vote on Monday.

Schor said the project was another step forward in the city’s efforts to revitalize its downtown area by offering 460 new apartments, “many of them attainable housing for state employees and teachers or other workers in our downtown and throughout our city.”

“As we all know, downtown is in transition, with thousands of state employees working sporadically or remotely. I've talked to capital city mayors across the country. We're all facing the same thing. But I don't want anyone to assume that things are falling apart,” Schor said.

“We know that to have the most active downtown, we need people. And we know that people want to live downtown,” he added. “Hundreds of housing units for all incomes have opened in the last six years, but we aren't done yet.”

On a related note, Schor addressed criticisms over the city’s nighttime warming and cooling center, which opened at the Letts Community Center in December after the city received an $800,000 appropriation from the state to create it.

The project has faced backlash from residents who say it hasn’t gone far enough to accommodate its patrons properly. For one, it lacks an adequate sprinkler system, meaning the city can’t provide cots or allow visitors to sleep there.

“I'll be the first to admit it's not perfect. But our goal was to help keep our unsheltered neighbors safe this winter while looking to the future,” Schor said, adding that the center has served over 200 people so far.

He added that the city was granted another $800,000 from the state, which he said the city intends to use to improve its homeless services, including at the warming center.

Schor then turned to infrastructure, which he said is “probably the number one complaint from residents that I hear.”

“I fully understand why. We have about $300 million in road needs right now, but we only receive about $17 million per year” from the state. “Last year, we used our road funding to redo 42 city roads and streets and fixed 29 miles of road. In addition, our public service staff received more than 1,300 complaints and used over 8,800 tons of patch material to fill roughly 64,000 potholes,” he said.

“But the reality is that our neighborhood roads are in bad shape, and we simply need more dedicated funding from the state for our neighborhoods and districts,” he added.

A little over a half hour later, as Schor was winding down, he reiterated the need for “new and improved housing for all incomes,” which he said was “critically important as we grow our city.”

He also promised improvements in several areas.

“We'll have the jobs in the present and the future, and we'll have the training and the education to help people build wealth throughout our city. We’ll have extensive neighborhood resources for the thriving corridors and business districts and a safe and secure community with public safety that provides necessary rescue enforcement and proactive community work,” he said.

Schor thanked Greater Lansing’s state representatives for advocating for the projects that are already underway but stressed the need to continue to secure state grants, which he said are crucial to the city’s growth. He said he was confident that they would deliver. The leaders of the appropriations committees in both legislative chambers are from the Lansing area and, like Schor, Democrats.

“I love being mayor of this diverse, vibrant city,” Schor concluded. “This is my vision for the future. This is the vision of Lansing. The plan is in motion. To borrow a phrase from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: ‘Let's get it done.’”


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