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Kalamazoo police using targeted, community-based approach to stop violent crime

Kalamazoo police using targeted, community-based approach to stop violent crime (FILE IMAGE)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Kalamazoo police are using a targeted approach to stop violent crime in the city.

Those efforts include house calls to visit well-known gang members and repeat offenders to let them know KDPS is watching.

On Friday, Newschannel 3 got an inside look at the new strategy to cut down on violent crime.

It's called Group Violence Intervention--this community-based approach opens up a direct line of communication with the city's most violent repeat offenders.

KDPS says less than 0.5 percent of the city's population belongs to a gang or group loosely affiliated with criminal activity.

Yet, members of those groups are linked to more than half of the shootings in Kalamazoo.

Work to stop bloodshed on city streets starts in a conference room at KDPS Headquarters.

Captain Dave Boysen leads the weekly round table with an alphabet soup of law enforcement officers.

"ATF, DEA, prosecutor's office, US attorney's," Boysen said.

Front line officers detail what they've seen on the streets.

"Yesterday there was a fight down at the next block," reported Kalamazoo resident Jacqueline Fullerton.

The goal is to intervene before a fight or non-fatal shooting escalates to more violence or murder.

"Sometimes people just take matters in their own hands and it's just not worth it," Fullerton said.

Now, police let people know what's at stake if they try to retaliate.

Captain Boysen hand delivers letters to the city's most violent offenders.

"So if they do choose to pick up a gun and commit a violent act and they do end up going to either state or federal prison, they can't say we didn't warn them," he said.

But the letter contains more than just the threat of prosecution--it's a warning and a way out.

Social workers tag along on those home visits to offer services.

Over the last year, Boysen has delivered 15 letters.

Of the 15 people who received those letters, Boysen says only two have committed a violent act.

"They've got no one to blame but themselves, because we sat down and told them what was going to happen if they picked up a gun," Boysen said.

KDPS officially partnered with the national network for safe cities around this time last year.

The organization works with nearly 30 cities, including Chicago, to reduce crime.

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