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Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief To Retire

Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Karianne Thomas addresses weekend protests during a Sunday news conference Photo by John McNeill, WMUK
John McNeill

Kalamazoo will soon have a new Public Safety chief. City officials said Wednesday night that current Chief Karianne Thomas is retiring at the end of the month.

Thomas came under fire from some residents for the way the department handled Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year. Last month Kalamazoo Public Safety was criticized for not stepping in before violence erupted at an event held by the far-right group The Proud Boys. Officers also briefly arrested a Kalamazoo Gazette reporter covering the rally. In a statement Kalamazoo City Manager Jim Ritsema says

“Chief Thomas has truly been an outstanding public safety chief and community leader and we wish her and her family all the best in her retirement."

Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley will take over October first. He became assistant chief in 2017 after joining the Kalamazoo department in 1998.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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