Ald. Paul Skidmore just introduced a measure to add eight Madison police officers at $416,385 (including fringe benefits, uniforms, etc.) and three more marked squad cars for $163,530. Unfortunately, the measure needs 15 votes from the 20 alders because it amends the recently approved 2018 budget. That budget allocated a local dollar match reliant on a federal grant that was ultimately denied. (That was news to most of us, too)
Our friend Bill Richardson suggests that Washington recoiled at giving Madison money when the City was spending $400,000 on studying the police rather than equipping and staffing the police.
Here are the six members who voted against Ald. Skidmore’s amendment adding more police the first time around, during adoption of the original budget: Alds. Amanda Hall, Rebecca Kemble, Marsha Rummel, Samba Baldeh, Sheri Carter, Denise DeMarb = 6.
You do the math, we need one of these alders to Come to Jesus to make 15. Best bet is Denise DeMarb from the city’s far southeast side. Contact her. Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, although a yes vote during the budget deliberations, seems a little squishy. Her district is just south of the UW campus. Give her a buzz. Helzz Bellz, contact all the alders.
But that’s just the first kick at the cops.
A $400,000 rip off
City of Madison electeds now have in their sweaty palms that Berkely, California “policy and procedures review.” You know, the one they paid $400,000 for. The one that recommends a police auditor who would report to another unit of government appointed by the Common Council. That, and a lot of “More paperwork . . .A gaggle of think-abouts, a bunch of remain-open-to’s, and a lot of stuff they’re already doing” in the last thrilling episode of Stately Blaska Manor.
That’s the second Kick at the Police. The Common Council has yet to approve the recommendations and won’t until this summer. More to the point is the $400,000 Question: to what extent can the Council and Mayor micro-manage the police? Municipal police departments are creatures of state government. A stand-alone police auditor is not permitted by state statute, in our reading.
In the meantime, alders will meet on Thursday, January 11 with its Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee, the one that hired the OIR consultants. See you there!
No doubt we’ll also see our ally Paula Fitzsimmons at that meeting. Few citizens have devoted more time and attention to public safety and policing than Paula and her husband Steve Fitzsimmons, who active in their neighborhood watch program in the Midvale Heights neighborhood on the West side.
Paula operates the Support Madison Police website, testifies before the Common Council, hosts an annual police appreciation lunch at the West Precinct station house, and much more.
The board of directors here at the Policy Werkes unanimously command your attention to Paula Fitzsimmons’ take on the $400,000 OIR consultants’ police study.
Paula’s analysis is headlined (in part) “We Got Ripped Off.” We reprint these excerpts:
The report is … missing an important perspective: The intensely hostile environment police officers currently have to work in, both nationally and locally. A truly holistic report wouldn’t have ignored this important element; without it, the report is one-dimensional.
The report appears to be tilted in favor of those who paid for the survey. Look at the last couple of pages for names of the people and groups the OIR interviewed, and it tells you all you need to know.
[A partial list: Greg Gelembiuk, ACLU of Wisconsin, M Adams of Freedom Inc., Brenda Konkel’s Tenant Resource Center, Madison-area Urban Ministry (member of the Derail the Jail coalition), Leland Pan (who unlocked the City County Building to admit Tony Robinson protestors after hours), Rep. Chris Taylor, and retired police chief David Couper, a critic of Koval and much reviled by his former officers.]
Chief Koval defended his officers when no one else would
Paula quotes from the report, then comments:
[From the report] “The Department’s leadership is unmistakably devoted to Madison and is capable of genuine engagement and warmth – while also exhibiting flashes of frustration or resentment at inopportune moments.”
Is the chief vocally and publicly protective of his officers? You bet. … In an environment where city government wasn’t standing with their police force and cops were being publicly berated, he spoke out – alone – for them.
Another OIR statement reads: “And if a community member expresses concern about an incident, he or she is too easily considered to be – and marginalized as being – anti-police. . . . Until an agency fully values and embraces insight and criticism from all of its community, it will not be able to fully engage with that community.”
No, these people are not marginalized as “anti-police” for no specific reasons. They are anti-police. They haven’t merely expressed it, they’ve made their hatred for the chief and his cops known on different occasions. I’ve been witness to the harassment and have testified as such in front of the PFC.
The chief has displayed enormous professionalism and restraint – especially considering the abuse he’s taken. And to imply that he doesn’t embrace insight from members of the community is a mis-characterization. He’s the first chief I’ve known who has completely embraced community policing so passionately, but nobody should have to be responsive to input that is inane, abusive, and overly-repetitive.
The OIR writes: “In contrast to the approach of many other leading agencies, the response of MPD has been to vigorously defend to the hilt each involved officer’s decision to use deadly force, and speak to those who deign to ask questions with resentment, defensiveness, or even hostility . . . And even in cases in which MPD has internally found problems with police actions, it has refused to engage with the public, seek atonement, or simply listen to community concerns.”
This is not true! Anyone who’s heard Chief Koval speak at community meetings or to the press after an officer-involved incident knows how genuine and transparent he is. What OIR and Madison PD detractors don’t seem to grasp is that the chief is bound by secrecy on certain matters. He can’t – nor should he have to – divulge every detail of an investigation or incident.
The Policy Werkes encourages visitors to the Stately Manor to visit our neighbor down the street at We Support the Police.
Thanks for your high praise and support, David! You are also a kick-butt activist.