A flurry of violent crime overnight in Madison has the city’s law enforcement leader concerned.
Madison police responded in a five-hour span to seven incidents Monday night involving guns. In one incident, a bullet went through a window into a home where a 6-year-old was watching TV.
Police chief Mike Koval said at a news conference Tuesday that the city has had 48 shots-fired cases so far this year, an increase of 45 percent over last year. In 2016 by the end of April, the city had 33 shots-fired cases.
“I can’t continue to come here, sound the alarm, and everybody says, ‘Oh, that’s Koval being Koval again, fear mongering. This is not fear-mongering; this is very real people from our lives, from our way of life, who are being violated,” Koval said. “We are no longer immune from what we see taking place on a national scale. The uptick in gun violence is very real.”
At the news conference Tuesday, Koval said he’s asking city officials for more resources for the police department to combat the wave of violence.
“Last night was indicative of a horribly compelling night of crime. I’m not so sure, since we haven’t even hit summer, that we’ve seen the worst of it,” Koval said. “We need to have a come-to-Jesus moment here where this city gets a grip on the realities of what this department has had to contend with.”
The chief said action from city officials is needed because the department’s staffing situation makes it difficult to fight violent crime.
“I don’t have enough officers and detectives to do the kind of job that we need to do and keep this tamped down,” Koval said.
Koval said right now, Madison needs to focus on assisting law enforcement in taking violent criminals off the street, rather than just focusing on social service and restorative justice programs.
“My reality is that I can’t wait for those social service and outreach programs and very wonderful sort of initiatives to take root,” Koval said. “I’ve got to deal with real-time violence.”
“I’m all about the restorative justice elements in their proper perspective,” Koval added later in the news conference. “Right now, it’s not about restorative justice. It’s about rounding people up who are holding this community at bay, at hostage, if you will, metaphorically and getting people locked up.”
Monday night, police responded to reports of weapons violations on Turbot Drive, Russett Road, Verona Road, Northport Drive, Muir Field Road and McKenna Boulevard. A tavern was robbed at gunpoint on Old Middleton Road at closing and a man was pistol whipped and robbed outside his apartment on Island Drive.
-6-year-old watching TV nearly struck by bullet, Madison police say
-Man beaten, robbed outside apartment, police say
-2 seen fleeing scene of gunfire, crash, police say
-Bullets hit 2 apartment buildings, police say
-Man injured in gunfire incident at Verona Road gas station
-Oakcrest Tavern robbed at gunpoint at closing time, PD says
Koval said it was too early in the investigations Tuesday afternoon to determine if the seven gun-related incidents were related.
“I don’t know how much more graphic I can be in terms of trying to get Madison adjusted to this new reality that is ours,” Koval said.
Koval said if it weren’t for people shooting from and at moving vehicles, poor marksmanship and faulty ammo, the city’s homicide rate would be much higher. The chief said if nothing is done, people will end up getting killed.
“We’re on borrowed time,” he said.
Koval said he emailed Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and the city’s alders Tuesday before the news conference sharing the details of the rash of crime overnight and reinforcing his message that the city needs to up the department’s resources to diminish and prevent violence.