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Editorial: Is Lansing a safe place?

LANSING, Ill. (July 7, 2023) – “Is Lansing a safe place to live?”

Residents, former residents, and prospective residents of Lansing have likely considered this question in one form or another.

Maybe you’ve been asked it point blank. Or maybe it’s come to mind as you’ve watched squad cars scream down Torrence Avenue. Maybe you know someone who moved out of Lansing because their answer to the question was “no.” Maybe you have been the victim of a crime, and you’re now forced to ask yourself the question.

Yesterday, The Lansing Journal published an article detailing Lansing’s crime statistics since 1996. I wrote that article, and it gave me an opportunity to ask a lot of questions and crunch a lot of numbers. I hope that it gives people a sense of how complex the issue of crime and safety is:

In writing it, there were more thoughts that came to my mind than could be included in a news-style article, so I wanted to share some of them here.

So, is Lansing a safe place?

“Is Lansing a safe place?” That is a complex question without a yes-or-no answer.

Here are a few smaller questions within that larger one:

  • Does Lansing have less overall crime now than in 1996? Yes.
  • Setting thefts aside, does Lansing have less crime now than in 1996? No.
  • Have assaults and batteries gone up in the last 26 years? Yes.
  • Have burglaries gone up in the last 26 years? No, they’ve gone down.
  • Do we know how many crimes committed in Lansing are by Lansing residents? No.
  • Do we know how many reported crimes turn into arrests, and ultimately into convictions? No.
  • Do Lansing’s crime numbers completely reflect every crime that occurs in Lansing? No, only the ones recorded by LPD, and in cases of multiple-offense incidents, only the “most serious” offense.

Rather than clarifying whether Lansing is safe, these questions actually muddy the waters even more. But in a sense, that’s good. It’s good for us to recognize how complicated the issue is — and how complicated our feelings are about it.

For example, consider the question of who is committing crimes in Lansing. We don’t know if the perpetrators live here in Lansing or if they came from out of town. Which would make you feel safer? Would you feel better knowing your neighbors aren’t the ones committing crimes? Or would you feel worse because factors outside your control are negatively impacting our neighborhoods?

Safety as a personal conclusion

What does it actually mean for a place to be “safe”?

I maintain that the crime numbers reported yesterday are only one factor in each of our individual calculations of the “is Lansing safe” question.

If you spend hours on social media tracking what people say about police sirens nearby or suspicious-looking characters on their block, that might affect your answer.

If you regularly talk with friends who live in Chicago, or Iowa, or California, or Japan, that might affect your answer.

If you’ve been a victim of a violent crime in Lansing, you might understandably think Lansing is not a safe place.

On the other hand, if you’ve lived on the same block for decades, found a loving church family, and made friends with your neighbors — you might understandably believe there is no safer place for you than Lansing, Illinois.

While to some degree safety is a data-driven reality, it is just as much a felt reality — determined by experiences and countless influences in our lives.

So the next time someone asks me, “Is Lansing a safe place?,” my answer will start with something like, “Well, that’s a good question with a very complicated answer—”

Beyond evaluating — promoting

A more actionable question might be, “What am I doing to make Lansing a place where people feel safe?”

The most well-informed debate about Lansing’s safety won’t do anything to improve it.

Change comes as Lansing’s citizens take steps to promote safety — and this happens in lots of small interactions. Saying hello to someone walking by on your front sidewalk. Taking a moment to get to know your server at a Lansing restaurant. Helping your neighbor shovel her driveway. Talking to, praying with, and buying lunch for a homeless person in need. These are the actions of citizens who want Lansing to be a place where people feel safe.

So, if your answer to “Is Lansing a safe place?” is yes, what are you doing to keep it that way? And if your answer is no, what little things are you doing to make it safer?

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Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Josh…when Lansing was a a very well kempt town with young people moving in for the safety of their families as well as a positive church and education experience…things were much different.. I urge you to travel the neighborhoods and especially the alleys to form your own experience quality check. There is no excuse for the condition of this town and it’s neighbor hoods. I only speak as a 71 year Lansing resident. To instill pride in a community you must FIRST have a neighborhood to be proud of.

  2. Lansing for the most part is safe until you get to north end of town; Thank Mayor Daley for tearing down the projects and pushing those people south ! Lansing has no room for gang banger or elements like it . The Ladings and WalMart contribute a lot of happening such as shoplifting, Easy acess to the highway brings undesireables to Lansing ! You read about sholifting or happenings in the parking lot . Most of the time offenders are not from here. Lansing has an excellent Police Department but can only be so many places at once ! Some people have said WalMart should set aside a area for Lansing Police to have a sub station and cells ! Our Police are alwys at WalMart.

  3. Lansing is unkempt. At the last cruise night on the 8th as I walked the display of cars, beneath my feet were weeds growing in the sidewalk cracks up to my ankle in some instances. I saw well groomed individuals walk into establishments only to turn around and walk out while staggering clientele made their way to the bar to ‘their’ seat to continue the process. A very high percent of the entertainment establishments (food, music, bar) in town have some form of gambling. Northside hotels continue to house the homeless, criminal activity and provide a hideout for murderers and yet the village has struck a deal with another hotel hoping to cash in on the flow from the Homewood casino to come just west on I-80. I see papers, cups, half eaten take-out strewn along our roadways. I see business parkways allowed to grow wild trapping said litter. Houses on major corridors appear abandoned for the knee high vegetation as drivers approach the downtown. Speeders well over the posted limit along Torrence go undetected. Anyone ever seen a speed trap crack down on Torrence like the pop up seatbelt check spots?

    By all means spruce up the town’s facade and miracle-grow the planters along Ridge Road for all to see . This surface treatment works on potential residents (or current residents) only once. How does a town change their attitude in hopes of garnering the respect needed to take care of the village we live in and others only pass through? That is a question for Village administration.

    Resident complaints are addressed when disturbances, property disarray, and suspicious activity is witnessed. Kudos to the police and the building department. Is Lansing past the point of being proactive becoming only a reactive environment. Think about this when contemplating a safe place to live. A reactive environment is one of survival, not one of living. The long-time residents of Lansing are a tenacious group setting a good example with neatly coiffed yards and a neighborly presence. These are the folks who will pick up a piece of paper even if they didn’t throw it to the ground. May even bend over and pull the weed from the public walkways. Why? It’s all about being stewards and caring for what has been entrusted to each of us as human beings.

    I stopped patronizing establishments that have chosen a spitting machine as income over the generosity in my hand for services rendered. Quick fixes do not a longterm investment make. The decisions not based on people but on things will prove fruitless. Instant gratification does not invest in the future…theirs or anyone elses. I have not lived in Lansing as long as some of my neighbors with 40 years claim to residency. I do not know what Lansing was like back then but for the stories I’ve heard. Do I feel safe in Lansng? I feel safe anywhere God puts me. Today I am here.

Comments are closed.

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