MADISON (WKOW) — Building positive relations between police and the Madison community is a top priority for Chief Mike Koval.
Over the last six months, Madison Police Department has implemented a process to collect feedback from the community that will help bridge any gaps.
“The data is actually collected by the policing foundation and then they distill the results. And hopefully, if we can see trend lines or deficiencies or gaps in inconsistencies, that could serve as a basis for systems improvements,” Koval said.
The subject of police-community engagement made its way into the Madison Common Council budget meeting Tuesday night in a conversation about police body cameras. $104,000 was allocated in the budget for a pilot program on the north side.
“I know you’re considering funding for this tonight. It’s a pilot that that emerged from somebody on the west side to be implemented on the north side. There’s a really poor message that comes to the community when that happens,” one woman said as she addressed the board.
“This pilot project is a valuable first step towards determining the need, and more importantly, the process for an eventual expansion of body cams citywide,” one man said during the public comments.
After hearing from the public – some in support and some in opposition of police body cameras – the full council decided against funding the pilot program.
Koval says it’s clear there isn’t a consensus on the value of officer-worn body cameras. The jury is still out on whether body cameras will help improve community relations through transparency, according to Koval.
“We know that you can’t cure trust issues or gaps of trust issues with mere technology. It has to start at a very organic level with relationship building between constituents and cops,” he said.
Chief Koval isn’t sure if the police body camera program will come up again in the future. For now, he’s focusing on building better relationships within the Madison community.