KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo City Commission learned just how prevalent gun violence is in the area during a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night.
Kalamazoo Public Safety Deputy Chief Dave Boysen gave a presentation to the commission during a work session on Public Safety and the Group Violence Intervention program.
Kalamazoo saw one of its most violent years on record in 2020 with 15 homicides in the city and 75 nonfatal shootings. That’s an increase from 2019, where the city saw seven homicides and 31 nonfatal shootings.
So far in 2021, those numbers are three homicides and 19 nonfatal shootings.
Gunshots fired at cars are also on the rise in Kalamazoo. There have been 245 reports of shots fired at cars since Jan. 1. Overall calls for service are also very high right now, according to Boysen. The department averages about 400 calls for service every day.
Boysen focused a lot of his presentation on the age of shooting victims. There have been 13 shootings since Feb. 21 — six of those victims have been under the age of 20.
Boysen pointed to a trend on social media where younger kids are posting pictures with guns and videos of fights. Boysen says they’re seeing an “arms race” with owning a gun not being enough anymore.
He says KDPS is pulling about a gun a day off the streets and most of those have high-capacity magazines.
Boysen told the commission all these shootings leave evidence behind. So far, the department has recovered 534 shell casings in the city this year. These casings can be entered into the department’s National Integrated Ballistic Information Network machine, which categorizes and makes searchable ballistics evaluations.
The information gained from recovering shell casings has led to several arrests. KDPS is one of just three departments in the state to have one of these machines.