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