Kalamazoo Gazette explores drop in juvenile crime in Kalamazoo County

Dec 20, 2013

The Kalamazoo Gazette series doesn't find concrete evidence that the Kalamazoo Promise has led to a drop in juvenile crime
Credit WMUK

In a week long series the Kalamazoo Gazette finds there has been a significant drop in juvenile crime in Kalamazoo County since 2008

But the series also finds that the county's juvenile arrest rates and court cases are still above the state average. The racial disparity is also wider than in the rest of the state.  

Kalamazoo Gazette reporter Julie Mack told WMUK's Gordon Evans that arrests have dropped 44%. There were also big drops in major categories of crime. 

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and Kalamazoo Public Schools have made some changes in how they deal with juvenile crime. But many sources told the Gazette that it's hard to identify all of the causes of the decline. 

Mack says the Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley put more of an emphasis on building relationship when he took over in 2008, and less on the number of arrests. She says there has also been a change in juvenile courts.  

While there is no concrete evidence that the Kalamazoo Promise is responsible for the drop in juvenile crime, the drop does coincide with the introduction of the scholarship program in 2005. 

Mack says there really isn't a way to prove a link between the Promise and a drop in juvenile crime. But she says many law enforcement officials believe the two are related. Mack says the Promise spurred more programming for kids, and adults reacted differently to students. 

But reasons for concern remain, Mack says two statistics stand out. She says Kalamazoo County has a higher arrest rate for young people than other urban counties, even for petty crimes. Mack says a large racial disparity remains. Black kids are much more likely to be arrested than white kids. She says the numbers show that juvenile arrests happen more in areas where there are more police.