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Madison council to appoint last members to police oversight board

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MADISON (WKOW) -- On Tuesday, Madison's Common Council is expected to take the final steps on a police reform measure, as the last two members will be nominated to the police Civilian Oversight Board.

Activists in Madison have been calling for a Civilian Oversight Board ever since the 2015 shooting death of Tony Robinson at the hands of Madison police.

After years of review it was one of the top recommendations by an ad hoc city committee.

And now board members are ready for the responsibility.

"This is the first police civilian oversight board and we want to make sure that this is a success and that people benefit from it," Ankita Bharadwaj, one of the appointees, said.

They were nominated by OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center.

In their perspective, the police department is an employee of the community because they're funded by taxpayer dollars.

"I feel that there's some disconnect, some problem that needs to be solved and I think the police civilian oversight board will be a great opportunity to bring both the parties to the table," Bharadwaj said.

Another member, Rachel Kincaide was nominated by NAMI.

She says her experience working with youth experiencing homelessness and being on the receiving end of police interactions gives her a unique perspective to help the board.

"Between certain communities and the police department there is no trust, so certain things have to happen in order to build that trust up again," Kincaide said.

Both said that improving transparency was the most important thing they hope to accomplish on the board.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway agreed, saying in a statement Thursday: "I am hopeful that the added transparency created through these efforts will help increase trust between the community and the police."

In order to get that transparency, the board will have the power to conduct investigations of the police department with an independent monitor that will be able to demand information through subpoenas.

"I think the police civilian oversight board will act as a bridge between the cops and the community when it comes to accountability and transparency," Bharadwaj said.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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