Madison residents appreciate their police as shootings proliferate, Council dawdles

“These acts of graciousness go a very long way of giving us a booster shot
and we certainly need it.” — Police Chief Mike Koval

photos and video by Norm Sannes

You know, when we sit at the greeting table and shake hands with each of the officers
and thank them, they — to a person — say how much it means to them to hear that
they are appreciated.  …  They are the one barrier between us and chaos.
— Patricia Rogeberg, west side resident

One alder attended Madison Police Appreciation Day Tuesday (05-16-2017) at the West precinct station on McKenna Blvd. It was Ald. Paul Skidmore. No Mo Cheeks. No Barbara McKinney. But plenty of community members, some from the far east side. As they say, a good time was had by all.

The precinct had just worked a mid-day shooting on N. Wickham Court and MPD, Monday night, on Beld and Bram Streets on the near south side. Tuesday night, MPD would respond to another E. Washington Ave. gas station shooting, where one was injured. On top of one, two, three armed robberies.

… stray bullets hitting at least one vehicle and three Beld St. homes. A mother, who is pregnant, her husband, and toddler daughter were out back of their house when shots rang out. After hearing the reports, they ran inside to get to safety. The mom and dad discovered a bullet had gone through their daughter’s bedroom window. It traveled a couple of feet above her crib before ending up lodged in the wall of the parents’ bedroom.

Paula Fitzsimmons put Tuesday’s police appreciation event (the second annual) together with the help of many volunteers. She, with husband Steve Fitzsimmons, are active in the Midvale neighborhood crime watch. It was good to see some TV news crews there, as well. WMTV-15. Madison’s elected need to know that the community supports its police. I’ll turn the mic over to Paula Fitzsimmons, who made these remarks:

Members of the community, thank you for sharing this celebration with us.

Capital K9s and Friends of Madison Mounted, thank you for accepting my invitation to staff tables and let people know about your good work.

For those who don’t know, both groups are staffed by volunteers who work to raise money to fund the dog and horse units. You’re not obligated, but if you feel moved by their work, please consider making a small (or large) donation.

To my volunteers [Names], you chose to spend your valuable time today helping to make this event a success. You guys rock.

To our business donors [Names], without your generosity, we wouldn’t have this party. I asked and without hesitation, each of you eagerly agreed to contribute. Thank you to the following:

To the people who work behind the scenes to support MPD [Names].

To MPD civilian support staff, thank you to the typists, receptionists, computer analysts, and administrative assistants like Alyssa Cain, who has to be one of the most efficient assistant I’ve ever met. I suspect you’re not recognized nearly enough.

To the people who work behind the scenes to support MPD.

To my subscribers …. Thank you to anyone who’s ever written a letter, made a call, or showed up at a common council meeting. It’s people like you who give me hope that we can create positive change.

To law enforcement,wise men and woman have said that every job is important. Janitors, surgeons, lawyers, writers, fashion designers all contribute to a productive society.

But cops are different. You see and hear things that most of us only visit in our worst nightmares. You put on five pounds of metal at the start of each shift because at any given moment you may be called upon to stand between a citizen and a gun. When the rest of us are celebrating the holidays with our loved ones, you’re working. When the temperatures plunge or when it’s sweltering outside, you’re protecting us from anarchy.

When you play basketball games with neighborhood kids, host community corrals, teach others how to do arts and crafts, visit senior centers, show kindness to a homeless person, you are adding value to the community.

You’re expected not only to be law enforcers, but constitutional experts, psychiatrists, medics, parents, friends, and social workers. And the public expects you to do all this perfectly. One slip up, and it seems as if they’ve forgotten all about your good works.

You work in a landscape where a portion of the public you’ve sworn to protect don’t like or respect you. Where people who don’t take time to understand your level of commitment, are ready to portray you as oppressors. I think it’s fair to say that most of us would just walk away. Yet you continue to show up and do your jobs with dignity.

There are a lot of unsung heroes in the MPD – those of you who will never get an award or recognition or even a thank you. So even if you don’t hear it often, we want you to know we know we cherish you. This I can say with certainty: The neighbors who took time out of their day to be here, the volunteers, the donors who so generously donated cash and food . . .all value you.

Speaking of unsung heroes, Chief Koval, I suspect you’re the primary reason why the public is in love with MPD. I’ve always respected the force, and thought it did a great job of balancing public safety with respect for civil liberties. It was only when you became chief did I become aware of the depth of what your department does.

You’ve championed community policing and public outreach, rebuilt department morale, and worked to create a force that exceeds public expectations. It’s been a tough year for you. But know that aside from the small groups of detractors, I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t admire you. People from all walks of life – regardless of political affiliation, economic status, race, or age respect you.

When you’re having an especially bad day, I hope you can hold onto the following. These are things your staff and citizens have said about you.

“Working for Chief Koval is like working for a priest.”

“I’m interested in joining MPD because of Chief Koval.”

“He’s a great boss and even better human being.”

“He’s the best chief of police this city has ever had.”

“He’s a warm, compassionate person.”

Happy National Police Week, Chief Koval, and to all your officers. And God bless. With that, we’d like to present you and Captain Nelson with this greeting card as a symbol of our appreciation for all you do.

Chief Koval responded: “These acts of graciousness go a very long way of giving us a booster shot and we certainly need it.”

“I just interviewed 54 candidates for 23 slots in our next academy. Based on everything we see trending in the news and all the various pushback, I ask them why are you in my office? They say, ‘Chief, Madison is a special place’ … because they understand community policing starts with community. … They see we do more than just pay lip service to that relationship.”

Chief and kids

Photo by Norm Sannes


About David Blaska

Madison WI
This entry was posted in Crime, Madison city government and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Madison residents appreciate their police as shootings proliferate, Council dawdles

  1. Thank you for sharing this positive story showing community and MPD coming together, building trust and partnerships and enjoying each other’s company! The media, except NBC15, had no interest in covering this event. The Common Council would rather have everyone in Madison think community policing doesn’t exist in Madison, hence why we need to have multiple studies into what’s wrong with MPD. There’s nothing wrong with having an appreciation event like this during police week. What’s wrong is how the media and the Council want people to see their MPD. I think everyone who attended had a great time and a positive experience. Thanks for sharing this story!


  2. Dan B. says:

    Could you get in without a cane?


  3. Dan B, what kind of disrespectful comment is that? Some people need to have canes for whatever reason – and you think it’s a joke? What kind of person laughs at other people like that? Shame.


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