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Lansing city council receives threatening phone message

Posted at 12:04 PM, Jul 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-17 12:04:39-04

LANSING, Mich. — Lansing City Council received a voice message threat this week, prompting an investigation by police.

The voice message was a deep voice, male voice

“The voice message was a deep voice, male voice,” Council member Kathie Dunbar said. “He was basically upset about drug addiction and prostitution in the city. He said if you keep this up, harm is going to be on its way.

Dunbar said the threat came on Monday morning.

“I don’t think it was a directed to anyone, I think it was a general comment to the city,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar felt the comments were likely an empty threat, but they were still reported to police per protocol. She also said she was disappointed by interim Police Chief Ellery Sosebee’s response.

“We the staff asked him to address the threat, but instead his initial reaction was to address prostitution and drug addition,” she said.

In an email to the City council’s staff Sosebee said he wanted to point out that the council had repealed ordinances related to drug addiction and prostitution. He also said he feels his hands are tied with the new direction.

Email from CPT. Sosebee

“The way that I think he phrased it was that prostitution and drug addiction were two of the ordinances that we just repealed,” Dunbar said. “Drug addiction isn’t a crime and when it comes to prostitution, we didn’t take away the tools to enforce the law, we took away the ability for police to do unnecessary stops.”

The council repealed an ordinance that barred loitering in places where prostitution happens, another against loitering in places where illegal drugs are sold and a third that criminalized possession of drug paraphernalia, but Dunbar said the repeals don’t prevent police from arresting people for prostitution and illegal drug use and that she and other council members shouldn’t be called out for trying to make the city better for the community.

Email response from interim Lansing Police chief

“If you don’t understand the nature of the email, the request, you should ask rather than assuming. Because that email was just full of bias,” Dunbar said.

The Lansing Police Department confirmed that the person who sent the message called on a ghost phone and there is no suspect in custody.

Erica Murphy

Erica Murphy

1:21 PM, Mar 03, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Erica Murphy