Wolverines Bearing Mumps AND the Terminator? ELPD Is Ready

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Friday, October 19, 2018, 3:30 pm
Alice Dreger

Above: Special Deputy Rob VanWessum and his horse Luciano in East Lansing on Sept. 1.

East Lansing is in for one heck of a weekend.

Upwards of a 150,000 people are expected to pour into town for the football game between MSU and the University of Michigan, and MSU’s University Physician is warning some Wolverines may be bearing mumps. On top of that, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be speaking at a rally downtown tomorrow morning.

Is ELPD ready?

Well, the police aren’t officially going to tell you not to kiss any Wolverines, although Police Chief Larry Sparkes tells ELi he’s surprised people would need that advice.

MSU apparently thinks they do. A special bulletin went out yesterday to MSU Deans, Directors, Chairs, and students from David Weismantel, University Physician & Executive Director of Student Health and Wellness. Weismantel warned that at least three cases of mumps have been confirmed at UM.

Weismantel noted that “Mumps can be contagious several days prior to symptoms of swelling appear,” and that “With the MSU-UM football game this weekend and regular socializing between MSU and UM students, it’s important that all MSU students be aware of how to prevent mumps.” Among the prevention measures: “avoid direct contact with someone else’s saliva.” (He also suggested people make sure they are vaccinated.

No one is currently advising against kissing Arnold Schwarzenegger, if they can get past his security detail. The actor and former Governor of California will be in town for a pro-Proposition 2 rally to take place tomorrow at 10 a.m. in East Lansing’s Ann Street Plaza.

At its meeting this week, Council voted unanimously to close Albert Avenue between Grove Street and M.A.C. Avenue from 9:00 a.m. to noon tomorrow for the rally. This is unhappy news to some downtown business owners who believe the rally will cut into business from the game on a day that one downtown restaurant owner tells ELi is the most lucrative day of the year for most downtown establishments.

Mayor Mark Meadows did not respond to questions from ELi about the decision to host a major political rally downtown and close part of Albert Avenue on a day so key to businesses already struggling in the face of Center City District construction.

The Grove Street ramp will be open and accessible from Linden Street during the period of the rally, and ELPD says it is ready for what’s coming throughout the day.

In an interview this afternoon, Chief Larry Sparkes said that 47 out of the Department’s 49 officers will be working during the 24-hour period starting at 6:30 a.m. Saturday. He and Lieutenant James Campbell will be cooking for officers and staff. When it is their turn to head out onto patrol, Captain Chad Connelly will take over the cooking. All officers on patrol, from the Chief down, will be equipped with body cameras.

Below: ELPD Sergeant Erich Vedder and Chief Larry Sparkes earlier today, smiling at ELi’s request.

Ingham County’s mounted deputies will be coming in Saturday evening to help with crowd control. (Read Peyton Lombardo’s 2015 report for ELi on that volunteer unit.) Two state troopers will also be arriving to augment the patrol shift. MSU Police will be coming into the city only if ELPD calls them for assistance. The Fire Department will have mutual aid to help if needed, as often is; alcohol overdose spikes dramatically on weekends like this.

Asked about the recent impact on ELPD officers of dealing with a homicide – a relatively unusual occurrence in East Lansing – Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez said it “certainly stretches our resources. The homicide case required all but one of our detectives working that case near-fulltime for seven days.” He said that help had been obtained from the Capital Area Violent Crime Initiative and the Michigan State Police fugitive team.

For this weekend, Sparkes tells ELi the emergency dispatch system is ready with extra staffing. He knows this personally, because his wife, Kristy Sparkes, is a 9-1-1 operator.

Residents should call 9-1-1 for true emergencies, as always. That includes any situation where someone is hurt or in imminent danger. For non-emergencies, like nuisance complaints, people can call the ELPD desk officer at 517-351-4220.

Gonzalez emphasized this afternoon that they want people to have fun but to “avoid celebrating in a manner that causes property destruction or puts others at undue risk for injury.”

Or, in Sparkes’ words: “Have a good time but be safe doing it.”

Near the end of our interview, Sparkes shared some news: City Council has authorized the hiring of two new full-time police officers and two new full-time firefighter-paramedics. This comes as a result of the City’s financial situation stabilizing from the passing of the income tax.





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