Chapter XC: COMMUNITY FACILITIES
C. PUBLIC PROTECTION FACILITIES
The City of Kalamazoo has over 300 employees (250 sworn officers) working within the Public Safety Department, which is responsible for police and fire protection services throughout the community. The Public Safety headquarters is located downtown on Lovell street and houses the Chief's Office, Criminal Investigation Division and Service Division. The Department's Training Division is currently located at 116 W. Cedar Street, adjacent to the headquarters building. The headquarters also serves as the sub-station for the central business district and surrounding area. Six other "zone" stations are located throughout the City and house the Department's fire apparatus, Equipment Operators and Zone Officers.
The City is in the initial planning stages of a proposal to consolidate the Public Safety Training Center, 9-I District Court, and City Hall South on W. Cedar Street with a new Public Safety Department. The current Public Safety Department building will be demolished and replaced with a new, larger facility. The exact specifications and cost are not known because the consolidation plan has not yet been fully developed. The Training Center is located in an old Fire Station, which would be demolished and replaced with a parking structure to house Public Safety vehicles and service other downtown businesses. Because the City leases space in City Hall South, no changes to the structure will be made.
Zone stations serve as fire stations within a fully-integrated public safety department. While the central fire station was converted to the training station in the late 1980's, none of the current zone stations are under-utilized. Due to age of some of the zone stations, which date back to the horse-drawn fire rig days, there have been some initial discussions regarding the possible consolidation of Stations 4 and 5 into a single, newly constructed facility.
The Department has adopted several variations of community policing models. The Community Public Safety unit supervises nine Neighborhood Liaison Officers (NLO) that are assigned geographically to specific neighborhoods, working closely with neighborhood associations on crime prevention and other quality-of-life issues. The Department also has a Tactical Response Unit (TRU) which aggressively confronts issues that require concentrated enforcement. The TRU works cooperatively with the Kalamazoo Valley Enforcement Team (KVET) on issues related to drug related crimes. Finally, the Department's Operations Division provides special units to meet very specialized needs, such as SWAT teams, Bomb Squads, and Hazardous Materials teams.
All sworn officers also provide fire protection services. The department has not identified any areas of the City that do not have adequate fire protection or fire flow from City hydrants. If deficiencies occur in emergency situations, the department relies on the county-wide mutual aid system with area fire and police departments, which includes support with equipment and personnel. However, the City of Kalamazoo provides mutual aid assistance more often than it requests assistance from adjacent communities.
Though the fire protection services once provided paramedic service, it never provided medical transport services. Shortly after the police and fire department consolidation, the paramedic support services were privatized. Public Safety Officers and fire apparatus still respond to rescues to provide medical first responder services until the ambulance service providers (Life EMS) arrives and takes control of the medical scene.