KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A week after being sworn in, Kalamazoo’s new top cop is sharing his vision for the future.

Chief David Boysen started in the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety’s patrol division in 1995. He said back then, the top position wasn’t his goal. Instead, it was to “simply do the best (he) could in whatever position (he) was in.”

It might not have been his goal then, but being chief is now his reality.

“The reality is kind of sinking in that it’s not the acting chief anymore,” Boysen said.

Last Thursday, the ‘acting’ tag was dropped from Boysen’s title when he was sworn in as the chief of KDPS. The department has promoted Matt Huber to deputy chief, David Juday to assistant chief and Ryan Tibbets to chief of staff.

Boysen’s said the department’s primary focus is keeping community safe alongside collaborating partners.

“We cannot do it ourselves. We’ve got some great partnerships. Really, that is my No. 1 thing, is just refocus,” Boysen said. “We’ve got the right people in the right places. We’ve got the right community partners working with us, so I am very optimistic going forward into the next year.”

With him officially taking over, Boysen becomes the department’s third chief in three years. Karianne Thomas was fired in September 2020 following criticism for how racial inequity protests and a Proud Boys rally earlier that year were handled. Vernon Coakley was ousted in December 2022 after harassment allegations were found to be credible.

News 8 asked Boysen what he would say to people in Kalamazoo who are concerned about where KDPS is headed given the quick leadership changes.

“I think the department is heading in the right direction. Yeah, we had some leadership changes at the top, but I’m just going to tell you (that) not just here, but law enforcement across the country, it’s been a very tough, tough road since 2020. I think with Chief Thomas, there were a lot of things that happened in the community that no one thought was even possible,” he said. “I’ve had the luxury to sit back and learn from a lot of really good people, and even good people make mistakes. So I’ve learned what works, what doesn’t work.”

Moving forward, Boysen said that refocused community collaboration will be necessary to tackle what he calls the city’s biggest public safety issue: gun violence. He explained it is increasingly prevalent among teens and young adults.

“These kids — the shooters and victims — are the same. One day, they’re a shooter. The next day, they’re a victim and vice versa. They’re the same kids … engaging in this behavior. We know who they are,” Boysen said.

Boysen said the city has seen a 14% drop in violent crime from the previous year, including what he called a ‘steady’ decline since August.

“We can do all the programs and outreach in the world, but if we’re not successful at our core mission, which is safety, then how much trust and legitimacy can you have?” Boysen said.