City Finance Committee votes FOR police monitor
awaiting action on adding more police as of 9:06 p.m.
On a voice vote tonight (10-21-19) the City of Madison Finance Committee rejected an amendment to delete the proposed $200,000 police monitor. Alds. Barbara McKinney, Paul Skidmore, and Sheri Carter spoke in favor of deletion.
The budget as recommended by the Finance Committee will go before the full Common Council on Tuesday, November 12 for final action. Alders can still move to amend the budget from the Council floor.
Skidmore, who is not a member of Finance, said Monday that the proposed monitor would serve as a forum for the “on-going harassment” of the police department “including by some incumbent alders.”
The Madison police union came out today in opposition to the mayor’s proposed $200,000/year “police monitor.” We discussed it here. A few cities do have a police monitor, says the president of the police union. But none of them has an independent police and fire commission like Wisconsin municipalities. You want more accountability? Provide body cameras, the police union says.
Statement of Kelly Powers, president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Assn., to the Madison city finance committee today.
I write on behalf of the MPPOA to express the collective opposition of our membership to the budget proposal that would establish an independent monitor of the Madison Police Department. In short, an independent monitor would be a costly and unnecessary duplication of the civilian oversight that already exists, and it would severely impair the ability of our officers to meet the growing demands for service and the dynamic challenges facing our community.
Civilian oversight over MPD has existed for many years in the form of the police and fire commission. Any reference by the proponents of this budget measure regarding the successful use of an independent auditor by any city throughout the country has neglected to observe that none of those cities had any real civilian oversight whatsoever, and certainly nothing remotely analogous to the police and fire commission as it exists in Madison. And we’ve had it for more than 100 years.
If the common council wishes to expand the considerable authority of the PFC beyond that which already exists, state law provides a process by which that can be accomplished by obtaining optional powers under Wis. Stat. § 62.13(6). The independent monitor model that has been proposed is completely untested and unwarranted, and Madison should not experiment in this manner.
As you know, the service model that MPD has developed is based upon community-oriented policing, such that it has been built-up around the requests made by you and your predecessors on the council. Expending resources to create a duplicative body should not come at the expense of the staffing needed to meet our service demands. MPD’s patrol services are operating at a dangerously thin margin already. Should the council fail to add staffing, many of the specialized services that have been established in our community will have to be cut in order to address our basic patrol needs.
The MPPOA strongly supports the principle of accountability in the way in which we serve the public. For that reason, we have openly indicated our support for body-worn cameras, which were recommended by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Agencies throughout the state and country are increasingly implementing body worn cameras programs, and we believe that more consideration should be given to doing likewise in Madison, rather than attempt to establish an independent monitor that is unnecessary, unproven, and at a cost that will be unreasonable to the community that we serve.