All 20 Madison alders received a message that some considered threatening this morning from a Verona resident apparently upset about a study of the Madison Police Department completed last month.
The message, sent through the Common Council’s online comment form by someone identifying himself as Phil Mendel of Verona, reads, “Nice job blowing 400,000 on a pointless white witch Hunt you (expletive) liberal pieces of (expletive) – I hope one of these savages you defend busts your (expletive) heads open as they Rob & rape you”.
In 2016 the Common Council approved a $400,000 expenditure to study the policies, procedures and staffing at the Madison Police Department, drawing the ire of Madison Police Chief Mike Koval and others. The study, which ultimately cost $372,000, was delivered last month. It will be formally presented at the Common Council’s January 11 meeting and at a public forum on January 20.
Alder Shiva Bidar forwarded the message to Koval because she perceived it as a threat. Koval responded that “the transmission is clearly vulgar and conveys a specious message,” but “there is no clear and specific intent to personally carry out an illegal act.” He said he had turned the email over to the CIS section to “do a profile workup to assist in making a threats assessment” and reached out to Verona police as well.
“I feel like it was a pretty egregious email,” she said. “It feels very threatening and there needs to be some investigation. There’s some detective work that needs to be done,” she said, since there’s no way to know if person identified as the sender is the one who actually sent it.
Either way, “It doesn’t make me feel very safe,” Bidar said. ”This is violent.”
Bidar said many people disagreed with the decision to spend the money on the study, but have done so “in the usual disagreement tone.”
“I think it is pretty close to (a threat),” said Alder Arvina Martin. “Unfortunetlay existing as a woman in public we get these kinds of things. You can get threats on Twitter just for liking the wrong movie. It’s disturbing that our discourse has gotten to this level, but I’m not worried personally about this guy coming to do something to me. But it does have to be taken seriously. This is not an ok way to behave.”
Several alders posted screen captures of the email on social media.
An email sent to the address given in the message was not immediately returned.
This story has been updated to include MPD Chief Koval’s response.