Home Opinion Building Trust: The City of Madison Police Department Policy Review Committee

Building Trust: The City of Madison Police Department Policy Review Committee

Gloria Reyes

Incidents of police brutality and excessive use of force across the country have caused cities to examine police practices and policies and strategies on how to rebuild community trust in our police departments.

Mayor Soglin and the Common Council have listened to our residents call from reform and in response have implemented an Ad Hoc Committee to review the Madison Police Department Policies and Procedures.

On May 19, the City of Madison Common Council and mayor passed a resolution to review the Madison Police Department policies and procedures. The resolution declares the City of Madison’s intention to review the policies, procedures, culture, and training of the Madison Police Department. This effort will be led by an independent expert(s) in community policing, law, problem-oriented policing, racial disparities, restorative justice, and implicit bias and will also create an ad hoc committee.

Members of the ad hoc committee have been selected and appointed by the mayor and Common Council. The committee members are a diverse body of Madison residents who bring diverse experiences and perspectives. We are looking forward to supporting their work and we appreciate their commitment to this very important committee.

The ad hoc committee will be tasked to complete a thorough review of the Madison Police Department’s policies, procedures, culture and training using the expert’s report, public testimony, and other resources. The committee will also establish criteria, issue a Request for Proposals (RFP), review applications and make recommendations of an expert to the common council and Mayor.

The resolution is asking the committee to make final recommendations to the mayor, Common Council, Police and Fire Commission and the Madison Police Chief by July 2016.

The dates of the committee meetings will be set by the committee during the first couple of meetings and dates will be available on the City of Madison website.

Committee members are currently attending training on open meetings and public records, ethics rules and Roberts Rules. The first official meeting will be on Nov. 18 where President Denise DeMarb and Alder Shiva Bidar will be reviewing the resolution and outlining the task of the committee.

We encourage City of Madison residents to participate in this process by attending committee meetings and become informed about Madison Police Policies and Procedures and provide your input as we progress through the process.

Before we begin this process, it is important to understand that police are not able to effectively protect and serve the community without the foundation of trust. If we do not have the trust of our community, there is loss of credibility. Police need to work to inspire and extend that trust in the community through every relationship and every interaction. As a community, we have an opportunity to play a critical role in strengthening the relationship.

We need to work with police to become informed and understand policies and training within our City of Madison Police Department. This process will allow for input and transparency moving us closer to building the trust we need to ensure that all of our residents feel protected and safe.

For those who are looking for a quick fix to building trust, we need to focus on doing the right thing; not the fast thing. We need to work together as a community. This impacts our most vulnerable communities so this process will be intentional and focused to ensure that we are not just moving through a process for the sake of moving through a process but instead a process that is focused, allows for transparency, and allows for the voices of those impacted to be heard.

The Madison Police Department has historically been the leader in community trust-based initiatives and has committed themselves to changing these initiatives based on the needs of the community. I also have had the opportunity work side-by-side with some of the most ethical and committed officers who work to serve and protect the residents of this city everyday.

I am also a product of this community, so I understand the challenges of trust that we are experiencing as a community. I became an officer to specifically work to build trust between our communities of color and the Madison Police Department. I have committed my entire career to bringing the community voice to the tables and discussions within the City of Madison Police Department, and will continue to work to build trust in my role in the mayor’s office.

I will leave you with the following quote that came from the November issue of the Police Chief Magazine.

“The nobility of policing demands the noblest of character.” — Commander Michael J. Nila