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Feb. 15, 2022

Podcast: Embracing community policing

Marlon Lynch, MSU vice president for public safety and chief of police, hosts “Chopping It Up with the Chief.”

“I'd like to start first by recognizing the passing of former MSU Chief of Police, Kelly Roudebush,” says Lynch. “My time with Kelly was not necessarily here at MSU as a professional in police and public safety, but we were classmates together here in the School of Criminal Justice and served a year at Meridian Township Police Department as police cadets. We had an opportunity to establish a relationship and kept in touch over the years. She touched a lot of people, that's for certain. She was a quality person, and she will definitely be missed, but never forgotten.”

Joining Chief Lynch is Assistant Chief Doug Monette, who leads the Police Services Bureau.

“I spent about nine and a half years over at the East Lansing Police Department before coming here,” Monette says. “I have been at MSU for over 25 years. The roles that I've had as a police officer include patrolman, patrol supervisor, detective, detective sergeant, detective lieutenant, captain, assistant chief, and until Vice-President Lynch was named, I was the interim chief here at the Michigan State University Police Department. I've been here a long time. I've been here roughly around 35 years and I've loved every minute of it. This is a great organization, and I look forward to the future.”

How would you say policing has changed in that time? 

“Policing has changed over the years,” continues Monette. “Some of it has been cyclical because when I first got into it, community policing was a big piece of this. We are getting back to community policing, which is known as community engagement, getting to know our community, and getting to know our faculty staff and students because that's important. That's why we're here. And in doing that, we’re developing relationships and contacts so we can better service our community.”

And Chief Lynch, wasn't the concept of community policing developed at the MSU School of Criminal Justice, which you graduated from?

“Yes, Russ,” says Lynch. “It was Dr. Robert Trojanowicz, and I was fortunate enough to have him as a professor. He was one of the founding fathers of the theory and its practical components. The School of Criminal Justice here has been a leader in the overall concept of community policing.”

How do you define community policing and how does it meet your goal of better meeting the needs of the Spartan community?

“For us, it’s something we do all the time, not just some of the time,” says Lynch. “Day-to-day engagement and being part of the community and not just responding during a times of crisis or a critical incident is important. The community needs to feel comfortable enough with us to share important information with us, and we need to maintain an open line of communication both formally, whether that's through an advisory committee, and informally by the officer who is responsible for a particular neighborhood working in in partnership with community stakeholders.”

Monette talks more about the importance of building relationships and being connected, supportive, and engaged to provide better service. And Lynch says it’s important to monitor officers’ mental health as well as their physical health.

“That’s part of the overall health of our community,” Lynch says. “Officer wellbeing is just as important. If our officers and staff are not comfortable and healthy and may need assistance themselves, how could we have the expectation that they could provide that for the community?

“Doug's area is the most visible. The patrol unit is what everyone knows, the marked police vehicles and the uniformed police officers. Those are the officers who respond to you directly when you need assistance. It’s very important to us to have our officers on board regarding the community engagement components while we deliver quality service to the community. It’s probably the largest area of the department as far as number of officers assigned to it as well. The Police Services Bureau is a key component to what goes on. It is the beginning and sometimes the end of the cycle of services for us. Assistant Chief Monette's area encompasses a lot. The familiarity with what they do and how they do it is important to how our relationship will be with our community.”

“That's one of the things that I think is really important is that people have a good understanding that the patrol unit provides service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” Monette continues. “The patrol officers are typically the first responders to incidents and respond directly to calls when dispatched from the Ingham County regional 911 center.

“When they're not on calls, they're patrolling and actively engaging with our campus partners to solve quality of life issues and problems proactively. It's important that we're out there and that we're a resource for our community. Our officers get out of their cars. They walk the buildings and sidewalks, even in the winter. They're out there engaging with people because putting the name with a face is important. And it's better if people know who to contact. If someone is in a crisis, we want them to feel comfortable to call us. That's why we're here.

“I really appreciate this opportunity to have a conversation about what we do, how we do it, and the way to do it. We're very proud of our organization. We're very proud of our people. They are highly trained. They are highly skilled. They provide a wonderful service for our community.”

MSU Today airs every Sunday morning at 9:00 on WKAR News/Talk and Sunday nights at 8:00 on 760 WJR. Find, rate, and subscribe to MSU Today with Russ White on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.

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