MADISON, Wis. – Neighbors on Madison’s west side held a meeting Tuesday night to discuss crime in the area and solutions to the ongoing issue of gun violence.
While the meeting was already in the works before a homicide in a west side neighborhood claimed the life of a 29-year-old Stoughton man early the same morning, the coincidental timing added additional urgency.
“They needed a space to be able to talk about what’s happening in their neighborhood,” District 1 Alder Barbara McKinney said.
The meeting was organized in part by the Park Ridge Neighborhood Association. While Tuesday’s homicide didn’t happen within the confines of that neighborhood, it was still too close for comfort for many in the standing-room-only crowd.
Just a week prior, a grandmother on Mount Vernon Court narrowly missed a stray bullet that was shot into her apartment while she watched her 3-year-old grandchild.
“(Neighbors) come into this space with an added burden,” McKinney said. “Not only are they talking about what happened last week, they’re also talking about the reality of what happened early this morning.”
Madison police Chief Mike Koval addressed one possible solution: adding more police officers. In recent months, the chief has contended that he leads an understaffed agency that cannot adequately respond to growing levels of gun violence.
While the department, along with city officials, have long maintained that gun violence is not something that can be solely solved by the police, McKinney said adding more officers is on the table as the Common Council considers it
McKinney said ending violence can’t be an either-or scenario: Police and neighbors have to work together.
She said she hopes this meeting shows that neighbors have “skin in the game.”
“It can’t just be ‘I’m renting’ or ‘I’m just temporarily staying in this neighborhood.’ (It has to be) ‘this is my neighborhood,'” McKinney said.