Police and volunteers help fight blight in Kalamazoo

Posted at 6:49 PM, Jul 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-16 18:49:35-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Kalamazoo Police and residents worked together Thursday to clean up a site near the downtown Farmers Market that has been a concern for a long time. The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, the Edison Neighborhood Association, the City of Kalamazoo Public Services Department, and volunteers from Galilee Baptitst Church all took part.

The mess on Lake Street was transformed into a clean yard.

"We had people living in a van in the back of the house, some other illegal activity like illegal drugs," said KPSD Sgt. Matthew Elzinga. "We knew if something like this is cleaned up, we're trying to clean up some of the behavior as well."

The Crime Prevention by Environmental Design Project is set to enhance the look and feel of Kalamazoo, bringing pride of ownership to homeowners and residents living in the neighborhood.

"It's important to help the community, because this is where we live. This is where the children come to play," said Jaisha Anderson, 15, from Galilee Baptist Church. "When people come from out of town, they see this. We don't want to give them a bad impression of what we've got going on in Kalamazoo."

Whether it's addressing various housing violations, graffiti, trash in the streets, or trimming of overgrown trees, this project aims to fix it all.

Sgt. Elzinga says not only does this project create cleaner areas with less crime, it helps them bond with volunteers in the community. "A lot of these young kids see law enforcement as somebody who is sort of a negative aspect. Maybe they've seen someone in their family hauled away off to jail in handcuffs. This gives them a chance to see law enforcement in a different light."