The independent auditor proposed to monitor the Madison Police Department (MPD) sounds worse than a Trump tweet every time we hear about it.
The City of Madison paid the OIR Group $372,000 to detect pointy white hoods and/or happy trigger fingers in the police force. Long story short, it found neither.
The Berkeley policy boutique did propose an independent auditor to monitor MPD and report to a third-party commission appointed by the Common Council. When in doubt, ADD MORE GUMMINT!
Mainly to restore confidence in the police, not that M. Adams, the Royko-Maurers, Black Lives Matter, or Progressive Dane (PD) will ever stop hating on police. There is no satisfying them. When MPD performs community outreach, PD boss Brenda Konkel mocks them.
We have said before that the proposed third-party commission already exists. It is called the Police and Fire Commission, per State Statute 62.13. Granted, its five members strikes this observer as underwhelming. But they are the mayor’s appointments.
OIR’s monitor/auditor has a price tag: $200,000 a year. That’s what the California consultants told Council and the ad hoc Committee on Police Policy & Procedures last night. (01-11-2018) As government expenditures go, in a city the size of Madison, that’s not a budget buster. But really, folks, will this high-priced bureaucrat have enough work to earn it? Especially after the first year? (S/he could bunk with the $107,000 council chief of staff, who started work Monday.)
The auditor could could sit in on incident reviews, such as those that followed the death of Tony T after he attacked an officer, OIR suggested. But 1) how often do those occur? and 2) is that not redundant, given that state law requires an independent review conducted by the Department of Justice.
Why audit only the cops?
An auditor could also conduct performance audits, OIR suggested. When the Squire served on county board, he instituted performance audits. The first one examined sheriff’s department overtime. Every budget, the news media would praise Kathleen Falk for proposing budgets barely exceeding the previous year’s expenditures. (“How does she do it!”) A few months later, they’d quote her blasting the sheriff for being unable to live within his budget, overtime being the biggest problem.
That was our first performance audit. It said hire more deputies and you save money by avoiding overtime pay. Duh! But we needed that outside authority to convince the liberal majority. Falk had been gaming the budget process, under-budgeting the sheriff to make her budgets look good and Sheriffs Raemisch and Hamblin (Republicans both) look bad.
Did you catch the term “outside authority”? Rather than hire an auditor on staff, Dane County contracts out for audit functions on an as-needed basis, free to select the expertise needed for the particular audit. Competitive bidding holds down costs. Dane County spent well less than a tenth of what the City paid OIR.
Furthermore, a permanent in-house auditor could get too cozy with his subject over time. S/he would be under pressure to curry favor by telling his/her employers, the alders, what they want to hear.
The City of Madison should audit the police, from time to time. The OIR consult could be regarded as one such audit, as misguided as it was. It should also audit park usage, affordable housing, homeless shelters, the efficacy of neighborhood centers, TIFF costs and rewards, the impact of requiring affirmative action plans of all city vendors and contractors, etc.
Blaska’s Bottom Line — The Emerald City should audit a variety of city services, hiring outside expertise for each specific audit on a bid basis, to answer a specific concern. But let’s say this here, most of the OIR report is micro-managing. If Madison wants to build confidence in its police, the alders and Mayor Soglin should stand side by side with Chief Mike Koval.