Kalamazoo Lieutenant: Broncos success 'refreshing' after tragedies this year

Kalamazoo prepares for big game

KALAMAZOO, MICH. - The national spotlight is now on Kalamazoo for triumph rather than tragedy.

On Saturday, ESPN will broadcast the Broncos game against Buffalo as fans cheer for their undefeated team.

However, it's happening in a community that's also dealt with two mass killings over the past year.

We talked with Kalamazoo police on Wednesday about how important the game is for everyone's morale.

On Wednesday, the conversation in the patrol car was about preparing for celebration, not responding to tragedy.

"It's refreshing, because after you deal with tragedies over and over it's hard," says Lieutenant Scott Boling with Kalamazoo Public Safety. 

Boling says they are planning to increase patrols for the Broncos game.  The Kalamazoo community is still coping with loss, but now hoping for victory.

"We're all celebrating, the great thing Western football's done," says Lieutenant Boling. 

Their undefeated team will play on Saturday.

"I was born and raised here and this is like the biggest game ever it's really cool," says Darren Hembree, a Kalamazoo resident. 

However, off  the field it's been a rough year for Kalamazoo.

"A lot of downside and this is something to bring a lot of people back up," says another resident. 

In February, six people were murdered in a mass shooting. Then five more people were killed in June when a truck driver smashed into a group of bicyclists.

"After a while it wears you down and it's events like this that picks everybody's spirits back up,"says Lieutenant Boling .

"It felt like an all-time low, everybody took it pretty rough with the shooting and everything, and now we're at an all-time high it's awesome," says Hembree. 

Now, it's not tragedy making national news. ESPN will be setting up shop on campus for the big game.

"I never thought it would happen but it's very cool that it is," says Marina Hyndman, a Western Michigan University student. 

"When you make national news for tragedies it's kind of heart wrenching, but when you have something, this big event coming, that's positive it energizes everybody," says Lieutenant Boling. 

Police say there will be extra patrols to control traffic, and the officers will be making sure everyone's safe during tailgating as well as  after the game. 

(© 2016 WZZM)


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