The OIR Group published its lengthy report of the Madison Police Department this past Thursday. We objected to it when the common council first proposed it, viewing it as a colossal waste of taxpayer money and a way to stick it to Madison PD (although they’ll adamantly deny it). My initial assessment has been solidified after reading it.
Despite being unable to find glaring issues with Madison PD, OIR managed to pound out 146 recommendations, most of which center around redundant themes, which David Blaska reported on: “More paperwork . . .A gaggle of “think abouts” and “remain open to’s” . . . and stuff they’re already doing.”
The report is overly nit-picky, appears vague in places, and even seems to lack understanding of state law.
A couple of weeks ago I suggested five charities to consider supporting for Giving Tuesday. As promised, I’d like to tell you more about each of these to help with your end-of-year-giving plans.
There’s a lot of need out there. Good people are working for seniors, kids, animals, the environment, the homeless, the mentally ill, veterans, and dozens of other causes. The reality is, they all need money to operate and to continue with their good work. The organizations I’ve chosen are no different.
We’d all like to make sure we choose charities that will put our hard-earned cash to good use. The following, in my opinion, will do that.
Don’t have a lot of spare cash on hand? Not a problem. As you’ll see, there are different ways to give that are just as meaningful and personally fulfilling – during the holidays and year-round.
A quick shout-out to Law Enforcement Today for publishing my article about citizen involvement being the essential key to changing the current – and dangerous – trajectory policing is on. If a handful of us can effect meaningful change, imagine what a crowd can do.
Madison residents: We’ll be working diligently in 2018 to defend our beloved Chief Koval and Madison PD – and we’ll need your continued support to succeed. I’ll be honest: The challenges will be mountainous.
You may have heard that the Madison Common Council created a new council chief of staff position. They are formally hiring their new staffer at this evening’s council meeting. Our friend, David Blaska – staunch Madison PD supporter and someone who has a pulse on city and county politics – has done a great job of reporting this story. As has our friend, Vicki McKenna.
I have a huge problem with this entire scenario.
Good stuff happened at the state Capitol today.
In my last update on the Wisconsin law enforcement license plate bill (AB 381), I shared with you the fantastic news that the bill unanimously passed the Assembly and started through the Senate. There is a lot of goodwill surrounding this bill, and we have reason to believe it’ll pass. In the meantime, it still needs to go through its formal process.
If your inbox looks anything like mine today, it’s overflowing with Giving Tuesday reminders from charitable organizations. Your box may be filled with requests from organizations serving the environment, the homeless, animals, kids, the mentally ill, seniors. They’re all important.
There’s so much need out there, that it’s impossible to be able to give to every single group that asks. And there are so many choices, that deciding where to donate your hard-earned cash could cause a serious case of analysis paralysis.
Family, friends, my health, good food to eat, a decent place to live, nature, animals. This is the obligatory list many of us – including I – repeat each Thanksgiving. I cherish all these things, and they hold even more meaning for me now that I’m middle-aged.
This year I have six more to add to my gratitude list . . .
The US Department of Justice announced the recipients of the 2017 COPS Hiring Program Awards and drumroll . . . Madison PD didn’t win. We knew from the start that getting this grant was a longshot – and while it would have been a fantastic win, we’re not devastated.
The DOJ has a limited amount of funds to award (about 98 million bucks), so obviously not every police department in the nation could win. Congratulations to all the winners, including the three from Wisconsin: LaCrosse PD, City of Rice Lake, and Sparta PD. There is a lot of need out there, and I’m sure they’re deserving.
We landed a major victory for the Madison Police Department on Monday when the common council passed Alder Paul Skidmore’s amendment to fund more cops. But I need you to understand something: We still have a mountain of work ahead of us.
As we continue to fight for the men and women of our beloved police force, I keep the following in front of me . . .
• There are those in our community who seem to be solely guided by their contempt for Chief Koval, Madison PD, and law enforcement.
• We’re one officer-involved incident away from a public uproar, as well as an erosion of the goodwill we established this past week with members of the city council.
• We can’t get complacent.
Look at Paul’s body worn camera amendment: Just two alders aside from Paul – Harrington-McKinney & Verveer – voted in favor of it. The public did not speak out on this, and that’s in part, due to the fact that I was focused on the funding issue. (There’s so much a person can do with limited time.)
We pulled off the impossible. Early this morning at the 2018 city budget meeting, the Madison common council passed Alder Paul Skidmore’s amendment 9 to fully fund the City match for 15 police officer positions requested in a 2017 COPS grant application. The amendment was co-authored by Alders McKinney, Verveer, Ahrens, King, Clear, and Phair.
In addition, amendment 10, which was in opposition to Paul’s amendment and would have basically killed the prospect of hiring more patrol officers in 2018, failed.
I use the term impossible, because this is the same common council who has historically not been the most supportive of our PD. Yet early this morning, with their vote they not only gave Chief Koval and his department the additional staffing they so desperately need, but relayed a message of hope and support to our officers.
We just got finished celebrating the re-introduction of Alder Paul Skidmore’s pro-cop funding amendment (which managed to snag six co-sponsors), when wham-bam, one of the council’s cabal introduced an amendment of their own. Seems their proposals are designed to defund and kill Paul’s amendments – the local match for the COPS grant, and the body worn camera pilot project.
They’re using the excuse of Let’s wait until the OIR completes its assessment, to which I reply, Can you be any more obvious? If these amendments are approved, the pilot project would be dead, as would the prospect of hiring additional patrol officers in 2018.
Good news heading into Monday for budget talks. As I mentioned in a previous post, Alder Skidmore’s amendment #19 failed in the last finance committee. It would have appropriated “$400,000 to fully fund the City match for 15 Police Officer positions requested in a 2017 COPS Hiring grant application, should the grant be awarded.” It attracted Alders Verveer, Kinney, and Ahrens, as co-sponsors.
Refusing to accept defeat, Alder Skidmore re-introduced the amendment, and the council will deliberate on it, along with other finance business, on Monday. Even better is that Paul Skidmore has six co-sponsors for the new amendment: Alders McKinney, Verveer, Ahrens, King, Clear, and Phair.
“This is a great trend,” Paul told me.
Indeed. And this is happening, in large part, because of all the letters you’ve been sending in. I know some of you think your voice doesn’t matter or that writing doesn’t make a difference. I’m here to tell you that you are making a huge difference and that your voice is being heard. You’re not powerless. At least not in this instance.
Great news out of the Wisconsin legislature today. The Wisconsin Assembly unanimously passed AB 381, the Law Enforcement Memorial License Plates bill, authored by Representative David Steffen. Even more good news: The Senate companion bill, SB 480, was formally introduced and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Veterans Affairs.
Rep. Steffen’s research assistant, Nicole Walentowski, tells me that the hearing on the Senate side will likely be held at some point in January, a date that’s subject to change. And she adds, “This is being very positively received and we are feeling confident on the prospects of this bill.”
Please consider taking our short survey. It’ll help us gauge your understanding of the Madison city budget (2018) process as it pertains to funding of the Madison Police Department.
And if you haven’t written to Mayor Soglin & the Madison common council, urging them to prioritize funding of the Madison Police Department in the 2018 budget, you can use our pre-filled form to express your concerns. It’s hassle-free, takes just a few moments, and you have the option to personalize it . . . and you’ll be making a huge difference.
Next Monday, Madison Police Department can be well on its way to securing the funding it needs to hire 15 more cops in the coming year. It all hinges on next week’s budget meeting.
On Monday, November 13, after citizen testimony, the council will deliberate on the 2018 capital budget and operating budget. Funding for Madison PD is included in this process. It’s possible that the budget will be voted on that evening. If not, the council will resume talks on Tuesday, November 14, and if necessary continue into early Tuesday morning, November 15.
Our window to lobby for more Madison police officers, as Chief Koval has requested, is growing shorter. In mid-November, the common council will vote on the 2018 budget. Up until the time it’s finalized, we have an opportunity to help the chief and MPD in a big way – by making our voices heard.
The letters you’ve sent thus far have made a difference. I firmly believe our collective voice was the driving factor that compelled Alders Verveer, McKinney, and Ahrens to co-sponsor Alder Skidmore’s amendment 19, that if passed, would have allocated $400 thousand to match the COPS grant funding.
The amendment failed in the finance committee, but Alder Skidmore will likely introduce a new amendment. There is still hope that we can pull this off.
The deep hostility being leveled at law enforcement is a symptom of much deeper societal problems. Our culture is fractured. As a proud baby boomer, I’ve seen basic values seemingly erode in recent decades – most prominently in the past few years. Not that my generation was perfect . . . cads, bullies, and elitists have always been part of society.
But the basic traits that have been a factor in making our nation great – empathy, discipline, delayed gratification, reflective thought, selflessness, personal accountability, and respect for authority – are largely missing. Exceptions noted.
And it’s made our job of advocating for the Madison Police Department – and law enforcement in general – a much bigger challenge than it should be.
I’ve been so consumed with Madison PD issues, that I just haven’t had an opportunity to study the Dane County Jail debacle closely. My knowledge on this topic is limited, so I don’t feel confident offering too much comment. I recommend reading David Blaska’s blog for an in-depth analysis, in addition to what you’re reading in other media.
Based on what I’ve read and heard, there are those opposed to going forward with remodeling plans, adamant in their belief that the jail is a tool of oppression against minorities. A few supervisors on the Dane County Board are in favor of forging ahead with the remodeling project, and (accurately) maintain that it would in fact, create a more humane and cost-efficient jail.
Just when you think you’re making progress and a real difference, wham, you get hit hard from left field.
When I heard Alder Barbara McKinney say at last evening’s Finance Committee that “. . . to pass this amendment [Amendment 19 “Increase City Match for COPS Grant] is critically important because we send a strong message that we heard the constituents who contacted us,” I was feeling hopeful.
Several alders on the Madison council are heeding our pleas – a small step in the right direction, I thought.
Then I read Dane County Ismael Ozanne‘s public announcement that due to staffing shortages, his office will have to start being more selective about the cases his office chooses to prosecute, vague in his description about which crimes will be punished.
To say this is upsetting is an understatement.
The Finance Committee of the Madison Common Council met yesterday evening to vote on the Executive 2018 Operating Budget. We had our eyes on Amendment #19, “Increase City Match for COPS Grant.” You could watch the entire meeting here – discussion on A19 starts at about the 02:48 mark.
It tanked, with four opposed and three for it.
The Finance Committee released the amendments for the 2018 Operating Budget late last week. Check out amendment #19, “Increase City Match for COPS Grant.”
It reads . . .
Appropriate $400,000 to fully fund the City match for 15 Police Officer positions requested in a 2017 COPS Hiring grant application, should the grant be awarded. The proposed amendment reflects the local match for the requested grant; should the grant be awarded the Police Department’s grant budget will be amended accordingly to reflect the full award.
Is this the ideal? Far from it. We ideally need 23 patrol cops plus ancillary staff. At the least, we need 15 cops as Chief Koval has requested. Amendment #19, if passed, would supply us with just a portion of the staffing we need. If we get the COPS grant – and that’s a big if.
But this tells me that at least several of the alders are paying attention. That what we’re doing is making an impression. It’s a good start.
Alongside the battles we’re fighting on behalf of our beloved Madison PD, is another urgent situation brewing within Dane County government – it’s for the future of the Dane County jail. It’s a big political mess, with those who haven’t been the most friendly to law enforcement, dominating the conversation.
I’ve been immersed in the MPD issue, so I haven’t had an opportunity to study the Dane County problem in all its complexity, but our friend, David Blaska has written a convincing four-parter that explains all you need to know about it.
He was the lone pro-cop citizen speaker at the Dane County board meeting last Wednesday (same evening as our vigil), and for his trouble, was treated poorly, and was even (wrongly) accused of being a racist.
This past Wednesday was a quintessential fall evening – the perfect setting for a vigil in honor of Wisconsin law enforcement.
This event was intended as a path to healing. In September, someone felt compelled to desecrate the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial, an act that violated the memories of our fallen heroes, and mocked that which we hold sacred – law and order.
Capitol staff did a superb job of restoring the memorial back to its near-original state. The pain that act generated, however, lingered – for loved ones of the fallen heroes, for members of law enforcement, and for those of us who cherish our cops.
The city budget process is confusing if you’re not exposed to it on a regular basis, and frankly, it’s like watching paint dry. But a lot is at stake. Not only can Mayor Soglin and common council reject the hiring of more police officers as Chief Koval has prescribed, but current programs are at risk.
I’ve outlined the most important things you need to know about the budget as it relates to the Madison Police Department. My apologies if this post is over-simplified – each person’s understanding of the process differs, and I don’t want to make any assumptions.
Need more evidence that the Madison Police Department is still under attack? The yellow yard signs distributed throughout the city continue to be vandalized and stolen, offering another indication of how deeply the hate runs for law enforcement.
These pictures were sent to me by an MPD supporter who reports that this occurred on October 4th (I’m posting them here with her permission). This is not the first time she’s had her signs vandalized. “Feel free to share the photo of our house with the sign in the window and why it is in the window. That sign was the first one kicked off of it’s frame in July 2016,” she writes.