In a groundbreaking collaboration between leaders of color and law enforcement leaders, a group is issuing a call to action to all law enforcement agencies in Dane County on the use of force by law enforcement.

Following requests of local law enforcement leaders, the NAACP/United Way Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration was created in the aftermath of the officer-involved shooting that resulted in the death of an African American male in Ferguson, Missouri. The goal of the Collaboration is to cultivate and strengthen relationships between individuals from both groups of leaders locally. The Collaboration was created (and is co-chaired) by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)-Dane County Branch #36AB and United Way of Dane County.

Initial meetings of the Collaboration focused on analyzing reactions and responses of individuals and groups within Dane County to occurrences of officer-involved shootings of African Americans across the United States. Then, on March 6, 2015, Dane County experienced its own officer-involved shooting of an unarmed African American male.

The ensuing protests and public demonstrations strained relations between law enforcement and individuals from communities of color. The Law Enforcement and Leaders of Color Collaboration created a smaller, action-oriented Special Community/Police Task Force to analyze and offer recommendations on what was identified as a key barrier to strengthening relationships between the two groups: Use of Force. Two other areas, Implicit Bias and Diversity within Police Departments, will be addressed in future reports.

“The Collaboration felt it was crucial to address this relationship,” said Greg Jones, President of the NAACP and Co-Chair of the Collaboration. “The NAACP and United Way built the bridge between law enforcement and communities of color. Our members believed it was critical to create this task force to ensure voices of color in the community are heard on this significant issue.”

NAACP Dane County Branch President Greg Jones
NAACP Dane County Branch President Greg Jones

This task force is unique in how members from law enforcement, communities of color, government, the faith community and nonprofits have come together on a single issue. The task force developed recommendations on the use of force as practiced by law enforcement officers. It formed a call to action for all law enforcement agencies within Dane County to examine their practices. UW-Madison Police Chief Sue Riseling, Rev. Everett Mitchell, Pastor of Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church and Dr. Ruben Anthony, President and CEO of Urban League of Greater Madison, are co-Chairs of the task force. The task force also includes members from City of Madison Police Department, Black Leadership Council, Dane County

The task force issued four major recommendations:
◆ Change key policing practices that will reduce excessive ‘Use of Force’
◆ Police Academy Training
Ex. Train officers to become equally competent in de-escalation and weapons use.
◆ Engage and educate the community.
◆ Ensure the well-being of officers.

“These recommendations are the result of months of collaborating with every corner of the community,” said Chief Riseling. “We ask all local law enforcement agencies to examine these recommendations and align around these issues, which will strengthen their relationships with communities of color and increase the safety of all.”

“Last year’s community-wide heartbreak spurred the creation of this task force, so our community can build the trust between communities of color and police,” said Renee Moe, President and CEO of United Way of Dane County. “We are so grateful for the leadership of Chief Riseling, Rev. Mitchell and Dr. Anthony. United Way is committed to bring voices to a neutral table and work to ensure all are heard so effective solutions can be designed.”

Special Community/Police Task Force:
◆ Sue Riseling | University of Wisconsin Police Department, Chief | Co-Chair
◆ Everett Mitchell |Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church, Pastor | Co-Chair
◆ Ruben Anthony, Ph.D. | Urban League of Greater Madison, President & CEO |Co-Chair
◆ Chuck Foulke | City of Middleton Police Department, Chief of Police
◆ Tamara Grigsby | Dane County, Community Relations Director
◆ Amelia Royko Maurer | Community Activist
◆ Dave Mahoney | Dane County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff
◆ Harold Rayford | African American Council of Churches, President
◆ Gloria Reyes | City of Madison, Deputy Mayor
◆ Kristen Roman | City of Madison Police Department, Captain of Police
◆ Theresa Sanders | Black Leadership Council
◆ Luis Yudice | Madison Metropolitan School District, Coordinator of School Safety and Security
◆ Jay Young | United Way of Dane County, Volunteer Center / United Way 2-1-1 Coordinator | Staff