Open letter to Kalamazoo community from KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley

I wanted to take this opportunity to speak to and address the situation regarding PSO Tim Millard and his use of a hand gesture to respond to a wave from a citizen. On its face it may seem very simplistic but today we are not in a very simplistic time.

The emotion and energy behind police community relations is at an unprecedented level and the critical analysis of simple interactions such as the one between PSO Millard and the citizen is an important one.

In speaking to PSO Millard regarding this incident he said that there was no ill intent or maliciousness in the manner in which he waved back to the gentlemen. It is, and has been his way of waving, communicating “hey,” “what’s up,” etc on a regular basis, even in his personal life! PSO Millard is a fine officer who cares about this community, and puts on his uniform every day to make Kalamazoo a better place.

I understand and respect what the gentleman who took the picture said about “feeling threatened” as well as others who share the same sentiment. We do not minimize those feelings. We welcome the opportunity to sit down and discuss this with him so we can all have a better understanding of each other and our place in the world.

In the meantime as we speak KDPS officers are responding to calls for service in our community, trying to solve problems and engaging the community in a variety of ways. Tonight is “National Night Out” where nine of our neighborhoods will participate and provide a wonderful opportunity to build community and interact with your Public Safety Department.

I assure you these men and women would love to see you and have a chance to show you who they are!

To the greater community I offer up our continued commitment to building relationships in our community. This must be an on-going, perpetual and continuous endeavor where both police and community have to share in that responsibility. While I believe we have done tremendous work in changing the direction and culture of the organization this situation demonstrates there is still much work to be done.  I invite and would love to hear all suggestions and recommendations on what KDPS can do to enhance police community relations and provide optimum service to the citizens of Kalamazoo.

We are committed to doing this work with “you”, our community. Let us resist the temptation at taking the polarizing positions that can rob officers of their spirit or leave members of the community voiceless in the process.

By authority of: Chief Hadley

Kalamazoo exploring innovative, transformative funding solution: Foundation of Excellence

Along with an update on revenue options currently in progress, City Manager Jim Ritsema introduced a new alternative at a work session held Thursday night which would take a philanthropic approach to solving the City’s budget shortfalls.

The newly introduced option calls for the creation of the Foundation for Excellence, a new private-public partnership funded by area philanthropists, institutions, and anyone in our community who may wish to contribute. Once fully endowed, the foundation would provide resources to the City of Kalamazoo in perpetuity that will be used to stabilize the City budget, improve regional collaboration, provide tax relief for city residents, and most importantly fund key investments to create a vibrant, forward-looking community that benefits everyone. These investments would be driven by Imagine Kalamazoo 2025, the City’s master plan update process in which planning staff have been working closely with residents, community groups, and area organizations to create a unified vision for Kalamazoo’s future.

“This is a major opportunity for Kalamazoo,” said Mayor Bobby J. Hopewell. “This option not only offers a solution to our structural revenue problems, but also provides tax relief for city residents and still creates the opportunity for significantly more investment in our city and its people.”

Enough commitments have been secured to begin the process as early as 2017. $70.3 million has already been committed by donors to provide, over a three year period, support for the creation of the Foundation, with a goal of having it fully endowed within that three year timeframe. During this period, these commitments will stabilize the City’s budget, allow for an immediate reduction in city property tax rates by more than a third, and allow for substantially more investment in programs for youth, ending generational poverty, neighborhoods, place-making projects, streets & infrastructure, targeted economic development, and other initiatives.

The Foundation for Excellence would allow for the city property tax rate in Kalamazoo to be reduced by more than a third from 19.2705 mills to 12 mills, making investment in the city more regionally competitive. The long-term goal is to achieve a reduction to 10 mills.

“City staff have been working diligently to implement all feasible recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Revenue Panel,” said City Manager Jim Ritsema. “During our work, this exciting, innovative solution began to take shape. The initial commitments from many local philanthropists made this a real option.”

Funding for the foundation would be sought from a broad base of donors under a clear legal framework to ensure that Kalamazoo’s elected leaders will independently direct the use of funds, as they do with all City funding.

In addition to this exciting new solution, the city is continuing to explore additional revenue options to further shore up its budget, including the creation of a countywide emergency dispatch center that is expected to save the city $2 million annually if successful.

The City Commission gave City Manager Ritsema direction to move ahead and to craft the necessary legal documents to create the Foundation of Excellence. The City Commission will take formal action to officially create the Foundation for Excellence after the documents are prepared, which should occur before the end of the year.

“The Kalamazoo Promise has shown us what is possible when we, as a community, ask ourselves, ‘What can we do for our community? What can we do to address a challenge?’” said Mayor Hopewell. “This will provide an opportunity for this community to unite around a common vision to truly make Kalamazoo a city of promise.”

For additional information or to share your thoughts on this innovative new solution, please visit the City of Kalamazoo’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kalamazoocity or the city’s website at www.kalamazoocity.org/foundation.

National Night Out against crime to be held on Tuesday, August 2

On Tuesday, August 2nd, 2016, citizens throughout Kalamazoo are invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for National Night Out 2016: America’s Night Out Against Crime.  

This year celebrates the 33rd Annual National Night Out event. On this occasion, residents in neighborhoods throughout Kalamazoo and across the nation are asked to promote police-community partnerships; crime, drug, and violence prevention; safety and neighborhood unity.  Many neighborhoods will be hosting a variety of special events such as block parties, cookouts, and youth activities.

Events in the City of Kalamazoo will be hosted by the following neighborhoods:

EASTSIDE- Neighborhood Association, Rockwell Park at the corner Trimble/Humphries from 6-8 PM.

EDISON- Neighborhood Association, 816 Washington from 5:30-6:30 PM.

NORTHSIDE- Neighborhood Association 612 N. Park from 5-7 PM.

VINE – Neighborhood Association, Vine St. at Locust from 5:30-7:30 PM.

MILWOOD- Neighborhood Association Greenwood Reformed Church, 1815 Winton from 6-8 PM.

PARKVIEW HILLS - Parkview Hills Club House from 7-9 PM.

STUART- Neighborhood Association West Main (West main/Elm St) Park from 6-8 PM.

DOUGLAS- Neighborhood Association, 6-7pm at 1307 Alamo Avenue.

National Night Out is an enjoyable way to promote neighborhood spirit. On August 2nd, 2016, we invite citizens to celebrate with us and their fellow neighbors.

 

Authority by; Sergeant David Juday

Kalamazoo Public Safety C.O.P.S. Division

City of Kalamazoo

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