Emergency response changes in Kalamazoo since the 2016 mass shooting


KALAMAZOO - In the nearly three years since the Kalamazoo County mass shooting of 2016, local authorities have made changes to cut down on response time during a critical incident.

Jason Dalton pleaded guilty to all counts against him Monday just one day before his murder trial was expected to begin. He admitted to killing six people and seriously injuring two others on February 20, 2016.

In the wake of the mass shooting, many changes were made in Kalamazoo County to better respond to emergencies.

Three different shooting scenes in three different jurisdictions had West Michigan law enforcement officers scrambling that night to keep the community safe. They have learned a lot since then and now work together to improve communication.

One of the biggest changes was the new Kalamazoo County Consolidated Dispatch Authority. It combines five emergency dispatch agencies: Kalamazoo County, Kalamazoo city, Kalamazoo Township, Portage and Western Michigan University.

The dispatch departments now work out of one central location. First response agency leaders said 911 services have been significantly improved since it opened in October 2018.

Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Karianne Thomas told Newschannel 3 during the ribbon cutting, a consolidated dispatch could have helped her team during Dalton's shooting rampage.

"In that situation, all the entities involved were in the same room, but we weren't all working for the same entity," said Chief Thomas. "So, anytime that you're all doing the same thing in concert, there's always improvement."

There was also a public threat alert system put in place a few months after the 2016 mass shooting. It functions like an Amber Alert. If there is a threat to the public anywhere in Michigan, Michigan State Police can send a push alert to your cellphone to inform you of the danger.

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