5/4/23: Police reformed

Thursday, May 4, 2023

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KDPS says it has implemented all recommendations from a report following the turmoil of 2020. Also: Kalamazoo County will not reform its road commission. And Gull Lake schools are figuring out what to do after voters rejected its millage proposal.

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KDPS has implemented all reform recommendations

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) has faced much scrutiny since its mishandling of protests and rallies during the summer of 2020. The department was heavily criticized for how it managed protests following the death of George Floyd in May and June of 2020. Then, its handling of a Proud Boys rally that August resulted in the firing of its chief. But the new chief, Dave Boysen, said change has come to the department.

The city hired the OIR Group to do an independent investigation of the department last year. It came back with a list of 40 recommendations of how KDPS could better manage its responsibilities and its relationship with the community. Boysen said all 40 of those recommendations have now been implemented. “We’ve been working really hard to improve our policies, our training, our procedure, putting things in place,” he said. The recommendations included things like improving how officers handle crowd control and training officers in proper use of force and tear gas policies. A full list of the recommendations and how the department handled them can be found on the city’s website. Boysen said they will “continue to look at ways we can improve, continue to evaluate and re-evaluate how we’re responding to these type of events.”

County will not shake up road commission

A proposal to change how the county’s road commission is made up and administered failed to gain traction during a county commission meeting last night. The road commission has faced criticism from some residents recently for how it handles speed limits and signage, among other things. Commissioner Jen Strebs proposed they change the board to either be elected or absorbed into the county administration. That would theoretically make it more accountable to either voters or elected leaders. But commissioners largely disagreed with that approach, rejecting the motion 6-3.

However, the road commission will still have more oversight going forward. A meeting between the county commission and the road commission resulted in plans for more coordination between the two boards. The road commission will hold quarterly meetings with the county commission, and the road commission has promised to have a member of the board attend county commission meetings just in case questions come up.

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Failed millage vote will cost Gull Lake schools

The Gull Lake Community Schools will lose roughly $62,000 in revenue this year. That’s money they would have held onto if voters had approved a proposal to keep millage rates at 18 mills for non-homestead property owners. Voters rejected that ballot measure by 65.5% during elections on Tuesday. Under state law millage rates cannot exceed 18 mills, but they also decline automatically when property values rise faster than inflation. The ballot measure would have kept the rates at the maximum – instead they’ll likely decrease each year going forward.

Raphael Rittenhouse, Gull Lake Community Schools superintendent, told MLive that the budget impact will likely get worse each year. “For the current year, the budget impact was approximately $62,000, and the coming year estimate could be double that amount,” he said. The district doesn’t have any immediate plans for dealing with the budget declines or the millage rejection, but they plan to “explore the options.” [MLive]

Less waiting at red lights

Traffic could get a whole lot smoother at 41 traffic lights in the city of Kalamazoo. City commissioners last night agreed to spend $205,000 on a project to optimize the amount of time drivers sit at red lights. A majority of the money – $164,000 – will come from a federal grant, with the remainder coming from the city. City Traffic Engineer Dennis Randolph told the commission they’ll work on balancing out wait times. “I think that’ll be a lot nicer. Everybody will kind of share the waiting a little more,” he said.

Better traffic light timing could do more than just reduce driver frustration. It could also reduce backups and delays, especially as the city moves two major downtown thoroughfares from one-way to two-way traffic. “People will be noticing a hopefully smoother flow, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they can go faster or anything,” said Randolph. “But hopefully they can go a little smoother and then as we get the new two-way systems going, people should notice that they will be able to cross streets like Michigan and Kalamazoo a lot better.” Randolph added that traffic lights will be timed for drivers who go the speed limit, so speeding will just lead to drivers waiting longer. [WWMT]

Things To Do In Kalamazoo

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Muffins and the Market – Portage District Library
9:00AM 5/4

KNAC Press Conference & Free Community Concert – Kalamazoo Nonprofit Advocacy Coalition
3:30PM 5/4

One Thirst: A Shared Journey – Living Water International
6:00PM 5/4

Beginner’s Guide to Roses – Wenke Greenhouses
6:00PM 5/4

Pizza and Pages – Comstock Township Library
6:00PM 5/4

Poetry Night w Iliana Rocha, Brandon Rushton, & Andrew Collard – this is a bookstore | Bookbug
7:00PM 5/4

Chicken & Biscuits – Farmers Alley Theatre
7:30pm 5/4-6; 2pm 5/7

Kitchen Dwellers w/ Sicard Hollow – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 5/4

62nd Annual Kalamazoo Rock, Gem & Mineral Show – Kalamazoo Expo Center
4pm 5/5, 10am 5/6-7

5th Anniversary Celebration – Kalamazoo County ID – El Concilio Kzoo
4:00PM 5/5

Art Hop – Downtown Kalamazoo
5:00PM 5/5

5:01 Ditch Friday on the patio with DJ MEL-V – JungleBird
5:00PM 5/5

Slipping – Open House Theatre Company
6pm 5/5-6, 2pm 5/7

Music with Steve Kamerling – Brick + Brine
6:00PM 5/5

Pitch Night – Startup Zoo
6:00PM 5/5

Rose Funeral – Papa Pete’s
6:30PM 5/5

The History of the Milky Way – Kalamazoo Astronomical Society
7:00PM 5/5

Silent Disco – Women’s Art & Innovation Center
7:00PM 5/5

Live Music with Bear Tracks Music – Green Door Distilling Co.
7:00PM 5/5

The Beer Garden Sessions ft. The Dots – Presidential Brewing Co.
7:00PM 5/5

After Hop Concert: Kait Rose & The Thorns – Haymarket Plaza
7:30PM 5/5

The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Kalamazoo Civic Theatre
7:30pm 5/5-6, 5/12-13, 5/19-20; 2pm 5/7, 5/14, 5/21

Sketch Show: Miss Communication – Dormouse Theatre
8:00PM 5/5

Something Borrowed Something New – The Clover Room
8:00PM 5/5

Cinco De Mayo Celebration w/ Cuatro Norteño, Ballet Folklorico De Mi Tierra – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 5/5

Cold Leather Seats w/ The Founding – Final Gravity Brewing Co.
8:00PM 5/5

His Boy Elroy – The Dock At Bayview
8:00PM 5/5

Free Comic Book Day – Fanfare

Free Comic Book Day – Rocket Comics

Burn Boot Camp Portage Mustang Gallop 5k Run – Portage Central High School
8:00AM 5/6

DeNooyer Dust-Off Truck & Car Show – DeNooyer Ford
9:00AM 5/6

10th Annual Mothers’ Brunch – WMU, Bernhard Center
10:00AM 5/6

Spring Fling Market – Kalamazoo Speedway
10:00AM 5/6

Mother’s Day Pop Up – Birches Event Center
10:00AM 5/6

Farmer’s Market Opening and Brunch – Kalamazoo Farmers Market
10:30AM 5/6

Geology 101 class hosted by Western Michigan University’s Geology Club – Rockhound Rock Shop
11:00AM 5/6

Performance by Brian McClure – Rockhound Rock Shop
12:00PM 5/6

1st annual Greentop Cornhole Tourney – Green Top Tavern
12:00PM 5/6

Celebrating YOUth in Action – Great Lakes PeaceJam
1:00PM 5/6

Bring Your Own Game Saturdays – Valhalla Kalamazoo
1:00PM 5/6

Mind, Body & Spirits – Green Door Distilling Co.
2:00PM 5/6

Nutcracker Costume Carnival – Ballet Arts of Kalamazoo
2:00PM 5/6

Inaugural Kalamazoo Beer Fest – Homer Stryker Field
3:00PM 5/6

Kentucky Derby Watch Party – Crafted Copper
4:00PM 5/6

Charlie’s P.L.A.C.E 6th Annual Mother and Son Dance – Radisson Plaza Hotel
6:00PM 5/6

Sketch Show: Miss Communication – Dormouse Theatre
8:00PM 5/6

Ringo Deathstarr w/ Pleasure Venom and Tambourina – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
8:00PM 5/6

Karaoke – Saturday Nights – Louie’s Trophy House
9:00PM 5/6

See more upcoming events here.

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