KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety could have as many as 18 police officers added to its force next year, if the city approves the proposed budget.
The city’s general fund would increase in the fiscal year by nearly 9 percent — $1.4 million would be allocated to KDPS. The department would be able to add 22 jobs, 18 of those would be police officers that would equate to an additional officer per shift.
The city has proposed to increase KDPS’ budget by nearly 4 percent from $28.7 million in 2016 to $29.8 million next year.
The funds for public safety in the city’s proposed budget would come from federal grants that the city has to apply for each year. The money would also come from future measures on the May ballot if voters approve a consolidated dispatch in Kalamazoo County, adding back several officers to a department.
The city may be giving the department a badge of acknowledgement in the form of more than a $1 million to help the department that’s been receiving cuts for nearly a decade.
“This is really the first time in my nine years being here that we’re looking at some sunshine in relationship to the budget,” KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley said.
The potential changes to the department might not seem like a large number, in respect to an organization that has more than 200 officers but it will take off the pressure of juggling shifts, in a job that already has high stress.
“On any given day, we could be eight to 12 officers down normally. So now add that into a last minute sick call, or we want to send someone to training,” Hadley said.
It hasn’t 2016 been an easy year for KDPS.
On Feb. 20, Jason Dalton is accused of shooting and killing six people and seriously injuring two others at three locations in and around Kalamazoo.
“Our officers were one of the first on scene at the Cracker Barrel. They provided life saving measures to the victims. So they were knee deep in it,” Hadley said.
Later on June 7, Charles Pickett Jr. is accused of driving his pickup truck into a group of bicyclists, killing five of them and injuring four others near Kalamazoo.
“One of the hardest jobs in the world, in my opinion, is being a public safety officer and one of the most important things that a local government does is provide for public safety,” Kalamazoo City Commissioner David Anderson said.
The Kalamazoo City Commission will be holding several work sessions on the budget and will make its final vote on it in January.