Kalamazoo Department of Publics Safety's Blight program is created around the "Broken Window" theory which claims crime is contagious. Criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling, founders of the Broken Window Theory, argue that crime is the inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes.
Studies show that criminals believe they reduce their chances of being caught or even identified, if they operate on streets where potential victims are already intimidated by prevailing conditions. Therefore, neighborhoods, with abandoned properties that are surrounded by weeds and filled with smashed windows, are good places to be an anonymous criminal.
Relatively minor problems like graffiti, public disorder, and aggressive panhandling are all equivalent of broken windows; a gateway to more serious crimes in a community.
Kalamazoo is trying to fight this down fall of community, by dealing directly with the disorder. Kalamazoo Community Policing Unit organizes four Blight operations throughout the summer (April - October), where Junk autos, graffiti, tall grass, and street light outages are brought to the attention of the responsible parties and corrected. The mission of the Blight program is to improve the quality of life in the communities and promote neighborhood pride.
A Blight Operation consists of KDPS officers from the Community Policing unit identifying and tagging junk autos. McDonald's towing assists in removing these vehicles. Public works assist in cleaning debris from the streets with the street sweepers, and KPEP volunteers pick up litter accumulation along the curb lawns and vacant lots. Consumers removes shoes from telephone lines, and repairs any street light outages. Housing & Development contact home owners about graffiti removal, infractions of the trash/weed/long grass ordinances, or housing code violations.
The Blight program is a collaboration of many city and private agencies. The mission is to draw attention to the need of citizens to take pride in their homes, and reclaim them from disorder. Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety is dedicated to making neighborhoods a better place to live and grow for all families.