Now Is Time For Change
This nation is once again confronting its original sin of slavery and racism.
While there have been many attempts over this nation’s history, we have never found the way to live up to our creed that all are created equal with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The mass gatherings for racial justice we are seeing in Madison, the nation, and around the globe have achieved a level of scale and momentum that gives me hope that this time --real change is possible.
I am deeply committed to being part of that change and moving the work of police reform and greater social justice forward.
In the coming days, I will be talking with the Police and Fire Commission (PFC) to explore how best to select a permanent chief of police for the MPD who can carry this work forward. The PFC is an independent statutory body with exclusive oversight over the hiring, promotion, discipline, and terminations of police and fire personnel in the City. It is comprised of five well-respected members of the Madison community --Chair H. Nia Enemuoh-Trammell, Jacquelyn Boggess, Kevin Gundlach, Mary Schauf, and Fabiola Hamdan.
Beyond the work of the PFC, the City of Madison has work to do. The terrible tragedies of several individuals’ deaths at the hands of Madison Police officers over the years, has challenged us as a City to self-examine. The City hired the nationally recognized OIR Group to conduct an in-depth analysis of the MPD policies and procedures; engaged a City Council President’s Task Force to examine the police department, and subsequently empaneled an Ad Hoc Committee on MPD Policies and Procedures to make recommendations. This group created a robust list of 177 recommendations, synthesizing all of the above analyses. The Madison Common Council accepted these recommendations in January of this year.
The Ad Hoc Committee did, however, have a first and highest priority--the creation of an office of an Independent Police Monitor and a Civilian Police Oversight Body. I share their commitment to policing that best serves the interests of our community.
Since proposing the Independent Monitor in my budget last winter, my staff has worked hard to engage the experts, examine national best practices and design the office of an Independent Police Auditor--the position description of which is now before the Common Council, awaiting their vote. Like the Ad Hoc Committee – I believe the single most powerful action we can take toward meaningful and lasting police reform will be to move forward with due diligence to create this powerful, independent oversight position. In order for this role to best serve the Madison community, we will need your help.
ACTION: City of Madison Human Resources will post this position as soon as it is approved by the Common Council, and we intend to hire someone with deep commitment to social justice and deep expertise to help chart the course of police reform for this City. But we need your help to do so – please help us recruit the right person for this job. If you know someone with the right values and deep expertise in policing policy that we should invite to apply, please contact my office, Mayor@CityofMadison.com.
ACTION: Similarly, we will need a broad array of perspectives on the civilian oversight committee. Please apply now here and encourage others to apply as well. We will begin appointing people as soon as the Common Council approves this committee. And please feel free to suggest people you think would be good for this role so we can reach out to them.
While we await Council to approve these two important measures, my office is working to make sure that the Madison Police Department’s use of force policies are aligned with the Campaign Zero ‘8 Can’t Wait’ initiative’s recommendations. These eight recommendations – to ban strangle holds; to require de-escalation policies; to require verbal warnings and exhausting reasonable alternative actions before the use of deadly force; to ban shooting at moving vehicles; to require the duty for other officers to intercede in cases of misconduct; to require the comprehensive reporting of police use of force and that departments put in place policies that incorporate a continuum of force options – are the right thing to do.
Acting Chief Vic Wahl wrote about the MPD’s perspective on 8 Can’t Wait on his blog yesterday. I value his leadership as acting chief being asked to facilitate long-range policy changes that will impact the MPD and our community for years to come, and I appreciate the efforts of the MPD to strive for a permanent culture of continuous improvement. I am particularly committed to making sure that our use of force policy incorporates a continuum of force options.
Further, I will continue to work closely with Acting Chief Wahl to ensure the MPD continues upon the journey for meaningful and lasting police reform with all due diligence.