MADISON (WKOW) — Madison’s Common Council will take up two recommendations Tuesday night aimed to improve police-community relationships.
An ad hoc committee formed in 2015, after calls from the community to address police use of force. It’s made up of diverse community members to review police policies and make recommendations.
A year-long independent review released in December 2017 made about 150 recommendations and now the committee is pushing forward two of them for approval.
Ever since a Madison officer shot and killed Tony Robinson, community groups have been calling for “community control” over the police department. That factored in to the committee’s suggestions.
“We see that as the centerpiece of our recommendations,” said Keith Findley, a member of the committee. “Both because it is so fundamental in a democracy, that the people themselves regulate or control the way in which they are policed. But also because we think that every one of our other recommendations to some degree or another is contingent on the functioning of an independent monitor.”
Findley is a UW Law School professor who offered his take on the issues on the committee.
One recommendation asks the city to hire an independent monitor to review police procedures and work with a civilian review board, to create a mechanism for civilian oversight.
The second recommendation up for review at the Council meeting Tuesday suggests establishing a way to learn from critical police incidents, like an officer-involved shooting.
“What we also need is a non blaming process, whose objective is not to assign blame or holding a particular person accountable, but rather to look at the entire incident from beginning to end, to discover if there’s anything we can learn about it, to change policy, to change training to whatever it may be, so that we can minimize the occurrence of these these undesirable incidents in the future,” Findley said.
Findley says that program could be set up with a grant from the federal Department of Justice, which is why the committee is recommending it now.
The entire goal is to restore trust in police among certain community members.
Chief Mike Koval says his department constantly works to build trust through transparency and accountability, but he’s not certain an oversight board will solve all problems.
“My concern is that at times, I think civilians say if only we have these two things, everything’s perfect and the trust gap goes away. that’s unrealistic,” Koval told 27 News.
The chief wonders if the added resources and costs are worth it for the city.
“At some point the community through its public policymakers are going to have to have some conversations about what are they willing to fund moving forward,” he said. “Does that extra funded positions necessarily provide that measure that the community is thirsting for?”
Committee members are still considering at least 200 recommendations, both from a year-long independent review of the department and community suggestions.
The police department has already implemented some of those ideas since the report was released in 2017, according to Findley.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway made her own recommendations Tuesday ahead of the meeting, citing a June 3 incident as a need for ways to address excessive use of force.