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Kalamazoo Public Safety officers cracking down in Edison Neighborhood

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Right now, Kalamazoo Public Safety officers are focusing on the Edison Neighborhood, cracking down on the violence in the wake of 13-year-old Michael Day's murder.

Police say the violence in the Edison Neighborhood is concentrated specifically from Hays Park up to Washington Avenue and from Race Street over to James.

Its become one of the busiest areas for calls for service in the city.

Sunday night alone, there were two shootings five minutes apart.

Newschannel 3 got a first-hand look at what officers are doing to keep the peace, and try to prevent retaliation.

Police tell us for about a week after Day's murder the violence ceased, and an eerie calm settled over the neighborhood as people mourned.

But now police say, the violence has returned.

It's 5 in the afternoon, and Kalamazoo Public Safety Officer Joe Hutson wastes no time, cuffing a suspected criminal.

But its not the older adults that cause the most violence in the Edison Neighborhood, Officer Hutson says its members of the Washington Street Boys and Trap Money.

"They just wait for opposing gang members to come by, and that's how most of the confrontation starts off," said Officer Joe Hutson.

Officer Hutson says the gangs steal their weapons, like this baseball bat, and hide them in abandoned properties around the neighborhood.

He showed us where he recently discovered a rifle in the corner of a garage.

"They try to get rid of their weapons as soon as they can, but they also like to be able to require their weapons later on," said Officer Hutson.

Back in the patrol car, we saw the graffiti marking the gang's territories, and Officer Hutson revealed the places they hide out.

"They had bricks that were stacked up here, so they would be able to make entry in the house quickly," said Officer Hutson.

Officer Hutson tells us drive-by shootings are common in the Edison Neighborhood, and pointed out the bullet holes left behind.

Then he showed us the M4 in his trunk, ready to go whenever reports of shots fired come in.

"A lot of times we'll get a long gun out so we have a little more of an advantage," said Officer Hutson.

Hutson says he's put gang members in the back of his car as young as 12, and makes a point to send a message.

"Try and direct them down a better road where they can be more successful," said Officer Hutson.

But Officer Hutson says its going to take more than pro-active policing to stop the violence, its going to take an entire community to change it.

"They either love us or hate us," said Officer Hutson.

Newschannel 3  also learned, a single officer in the Edison Neighborhood will respond to about 30 calls in a 12 hour shift on the weekends.