The good news is that the Madison City Council took a U-turn on bashing the police this past week and is now studying crime.
The bad news is that the Madison City Council is now studying crime. It’s like The Nation magazine studying what went wrong in Venezuela. You just know the answer will never be “socialism.”
So the Madison Public Safety Review Committee is meeting Tuesday, May 9. (The agenda is here.)
It will consider the report of Ald. Marsha Rummel’s “blame the cops” committee. What was formerly known as the Common Council Subcommittee on Police and Community Relations is proposing 13 micro-tunes of Madison’s police force. (Its report here.) But whether its recommendations are dispositive is ultimately a question for the state supreme court. In the meantime, the police will be free to ignore those recommendations. That is how murky are the lines of authority.
Suffice to say, do you want Marsha Rummel, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Rebecca Kemble, Sheri Carter, and Denise DeMarb to run the police or do you want Police Chief Mike Koval?
Kemble and Carter voted against compensating Koval for his expenses defending himself against the frivolous complaint lodged against him before the PFC. A third, chairman Rummel, had proposed a citywide celebration of the life of a convicted felon and chronic drug abuser who attacked a police officer.
You will encounter a phrase oft-used in the Rummel report. It is “overlapping authority,” which, the report notes, “is not resolved by case law or statutes.” In other words, the Rummel report may be so much word salad.
Chief Koval has taken sharp exception to the Rummel report, as he should. In part, Koval responded that Madison Police are already doing much of what the Rummel committee commands. (“I will, however, point out that MPD is recognized as a national leader in police response to mental health issues. “)
I also feel compelled to address the compulsory language used in the Subcommittee’s draft recommendations (“The Council will direct the Chief of Police…”) … It is unwise for the Common Council to attempt to direct police operations as contemplated in the Subcommittee’s recommendations. The State of Wisconsin has a long tradition of insulating policing from political influence.
To my knowledge, Madison’s Common Council has never sought to direct police operations through a written order. Should this occur, and the Common Council seek to direct police operations, a troubling precedent will have been set. I fear that this would serve as a significant deterrent to future potential Madison Police and Fire Chiefs, as prospective candidates will be unwilling to have their authority subject to undue political influence.
… I also cannot endorse any effort by the Common Council to direct MPD operations. The Subcommittee recommendations generally reflect issues already addressed by MPD in existing SOP, training, operations or planning. (Koval’s response is here.)
Oh yeah, crime
We said that the City of Madison is slowly turning toward studying crime. Ald. Barbara McKinney comes to the Public Safety Review Committee with an effort to study the increase in shootings throughout the city.
We said the bad news is that the city is now studying crime. That is because Ald. McKinney wants to view crime as a public health issue, not a law enforcement issue. Read this report and tell me it doesn’t look like Hillary Clinton’s original health care flow chart from hell.
The Blaska Policy Werkes recognizes that crime is multi-faceted. And yes, it would help if folks ate their broccoli instead of a Big Mac once in awhile. But good policing is the entry point for mental health treatment, AODA services, and more. This report does not say that.
Bashing the police is a hard habit to break.