Engagement Strategies

News Channel 3: KDPS team up with local groups for successful winter block party

Updated: Friday, March 7 2014, 07:57 AM EST
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) –  Residents on the Eastside of Kalamazoo came together for some fun in the snow Thursday night.

Local groups, along with KDPS and the Eastside Neighborhood Association hosted the Artic Blast.

The idea is to break down walls between residents and public safety officers.

“I think it builds a good sense of community. Interaction with law enforcement and also the families in the community,” said KDPS Sgt. Matt Elzinga.

A group called the Aviators is trying to repair the damage from the recent racial profiling report showing Kalamazoo Public Safety officers were targeting black drivers in traffic stops. They are teaming up with the department to make some changes from all sides.

“There are some barriers between the way the community’s eyes the police department and the organizations in the city and the way organizations and the police dept see the community and I think our on is primarily just to bridge the gap to bring authentic community,” said Esteven Juarez of Vanguard church.

The hope is to change the mindset both of the Eastside residents and the officers who patrol their streets. Repairing the damage from last year’s racial profiling report.

“We’ve gotten used to believing that they’re part of the institution and they’re not. These guys sacrifice themselves daily for us. I don’t know anybody who would do what these guys do for me,” said Kris Mbah the found of the Aviators.

This was the first of many events planned for this year by the Aviators and KDPS. They hope to bring residents and officers together every few months for these fun events to make some serious changes.