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Madison neighborhood officer quits as position eliminated

MADISON (WKOW) — As the Madison Police Department reassigns a dozen officers from community policing in the wake of a tight budget, one of those officers called it quits, and identifies the city’s funding decisions as responsible for his departure.

“I needed to look at ten, fifteen years down the road and ask if I could sustainably do this.  I told myself I couldn’t. I had to step down,”  27-year old former Langdon Street neighborhood officer Damion Figueroa tells 27 News.

The city budget offered by Mayor Rhodes-Conway and amended and approved by the city council adds funding for three new officers – far less than proposed by the police department.  Former Police Chief Mike Koval stepped down earlier this year with objections to anticipated budget constraints on officer numbers.

“With some of the things that are happening within the city budget with city government, the lack of support and funding, it’s very hard,” Figueroa says. “And with the lack of staffing, it can lead to safety issues, burnout.”

Figueroa worked four years as a Madison police officer, the final two years as Langdon’s resource officer.  “And I loved being a neighborhood officer on Langdon Street,” he says.

Figueroa says a half-dozen other former Madison police officers he’s spoken to also cite city funding decisions as factors in their departures in recent years.

Figueroa says he likely would have been in a patrol officer position outside of the city’s downtown had he remained with the force. He says he’s accepted a job in the fitness industry in St. Louis.

The UW-Police Department created a liaison officer position for the greater Langdon Street area to address the coming absence of the Madison Police resource officer.

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Tony Galli

Reporter, WKOW

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