‘Madison police — that’s who we want responding’
All due credit to Mayor Paul Soglin. He spoke profoundly in support of Madison police before a driftwood city council and the need for 8 more patrol officers, in particular. It was after midnight today (01-17-18), following lengthy alder debate and citizen testimony, when he spoke from the chair. (Beginning at 6:24:12 into this podcast). The Mayor was outstanding.
Soglin began by urging alders to put aside their past battles with Chief Koval (who, over a year ago, had upbraided alders for not backing the police against the outrageous claims of racist murder lodged by Black Lives Matter). Here is Mayor Soglin’s statement, excerpted:
The People we serve are the ones who drive our decision … Prior to August 5, we set a record of 11 homicides. … We’ve now gone five successive months without a homicide. Think about what would have happened if the last 5 months would have been like first five months of the year.
Two things were initiated on August 1: a very intensive police presence dealing with hot individuals in hot spots. It was one that was very taxing on the department and consumed an incredible amount of time. … Because there are situations and circumstances where police officers DO reduce crime.
The second initiative was one that stemmed out of a council decision to begin a program involving interruption and disruption of retaliatory violence. … Police officers do work that does reduce crime. … We have significant initiatives in this city to deal with some of the underlying causes [of violence]. …. We continue to look at violence as a public health problem. … I think we can do more in that regard … but police officers not only are involved in crime reduction but the real driver here is when crimes are committed, when there is public danger, [of] having significant numbers of officers available.
You saw the video of the 600 block of [University Avenue, near-riots at weekend bar time] … when those incidents occur, the rest of the city is left short-staffed which is why we have to switch to priority calls only. Sometimes, we have to call in other departments. When there are shots fired fired there has to be an immediate response, there has to be an investigation. If it is at night it is very challenging to pursue any suspects, examine the scene, look for shell casings and any evidence that you can’t afford to lose.
… We are trying to break the cycle of violence, to provide alternatives, to reach that 99.9% of the people of this city who are well aligned with shared values in regards to peaceful lives. But there is a small, tiny percent who may account for 80-90% of the violence. No matter what we do in terms of housing programs, health programs, employment and training programs, at least at this point in their lives these individuals are going to chose guns instead of a job. …
If there is an incident … you would rather have a Madison police officer respond than someone from another jurisdiction … whatever faults we have, we are the best around. That’s who we want responding.
Blaska’s Bottom Line — We smack our forehead to be grateful for so anodyne a statement as “Police do reduce crime.” In the Emerald City, that is a rare snippet of common sense.