KDPS chief: WMU-area tear gas use ‘reasonable’

Kalamazoo officers arrive to disperse an unruly crowd near WMU (Photo courtesy DenzelPalm; April 12, 2014).
Kalamazoo officers arrive to disperse an unruly crowd near WMU (Photo courtesy DenzelPalm; April 12, 2014).

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo’s police chief says his officers’ decision to use tear gas to break up an unruly crowd near Western Michigan University’s campus was “appropriate” and “reasonable.”

Saturday afternoon, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers responded to the area of Lafayette and Redwood avenues and Knollwood Campus Court apartments to reports of a large crowd, open consumption of alcohol and excessive noise.

The crowd, which grew to perhaps as many as 2,000 people at one point, began attacking each other and officers, KDPS says, so officers on the scene fired tear gas to make people disperse. No one was arrested.

KDPS and WMU police used tear gas to get crowds to break up (April 12, 2014).
KDPS and WMU police used tear gas to get crowds to break up (April 12, 2014).

KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley said in a Monday email to 24 Hour News 8 that the situation was “unusual” in its “magnitude.” As a college town, he said, KDPS often deals with parties but rarely sees so many people accumulated in one place.

Hadley said his “officers and command made a reasonable and appropriate based on the facts and circumstances they were presented.”

He said typical protocol in similar situations is to disband the crowd as quickly as possible, not necessarily make arrests.

“The main purpose is to restore order and only arrest if absolutely necessary. Sometimes effecting an arrest under those conditions elevates things,” Hadley wrote.

He said he was not aware of any previous problems involving a “house crawl.”

It appears the last time KDPS utilized tear gas against a crowd was 2002.

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